“It’s not the campers’ fault,” says one holiday-goer in Coromandel. She is referring to the pile of rubbish left beside portable rubbish compactors across the region.
The Thames Coromandel District Council were forced to remove piles of rubbish in many spots over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Tauranga resident Lisa Adams, who was camping in a Department of Conservation camping site in Waikawau Bay for 14 days, says she tried to use a portable compacter, but found it was out of order.
She says they originally planned to drop their rubbish off at the Refuse Transfer Station in the Coromandel, but saw the portable compactor on the side of the road.
“There were signs all around our campsite saying pack in and pack out and also giving us the details about the dump, but it didn’t say anything about the compactor,” says Lisa.
“When we got to the compactor we discovered it was out of order and at that stage there was only about half a dozen bags, obviously people who had tried to use it and discovered it was out of order.”
Because the campsite they went to informed them of other sites, they continued driving to drop their rubbish at the Refuse Transfer Station for $2.50.
“When we were there, we spoke to a staff member on duty and let him know the compactor was out of order.
“The guy from the Council refuse centre said it was a huge joke that it was out of order, because it had only been in place for a week.
“We just assumed by reporting it there, someone would do something about it.”
Lisa says they then drove past three days later and the mountain was even higher.
“When we were leaving it was enormous. We had a good giggle about it, because they could have actually solved it quickly by putting a skip there or something, knowing that it was out of order.
“Nobody put a sign up to say please don’t put your rubbish here, the machine is out of order or they could have put the number of the dump just like our campsite did.”
Lisa says she also talked to many people who had rung the 0800 number on the compactor and nothing had been done about it.
She says they stopped by when the workers were also collecting the rubbish on behalf of the Council and they all said they were fully aware that the compactor had been out of order for some time.
“Nobody actually bothered to do anything about it instead they’re attacking all the campers which is really unfair.
“The campers thought they were doing the right thing- if you put something in the trash and it’s not working than you assume that’s where they want you to leave it,” she says. “They’ve let us all down.”
To help maintain a clean and tidy environment in the region, Thames Coromandel District Council operates seven refuse transfer stations across the district.
At four of these there are facilities to allow for drop off of refuse after hours.
TCDC Infrastructure Group Manager Bruce Hinson says in addition to the refuse transfer stations, there are four portable rubbish compactors in operation at key locations around the Coromandel that see high visitor numbers to make it more convenient for people to dispose of rubbish.
One normal-sized bag of household rubbish can fit into the compactor's chute at a time, and each use costs a $2 coin.
“Problems have arisen when people have chosen to either try to fit in more than one bag at a time, have placed other objects like a length of pipe and broken camping chairs in the chute, or tried to make the compactor operate without paying the $2 charge.
“The mechanism can't handle these types of issues and they will cause the compactor to malfunction. This then requires a serviceperson to attend onsite to try to get it running normally again.”
He says the compactor north of Colville was put in place on December 22 and was confirmed to be working.
“An engineer went to the compactor on December 28 after we received some complaints that it wasn't working and cut out a steel pipe that had been jammed into the chute and damaged it.
“The engineer got the compactor running again and cleared the rubbish that had been dumped next to it.”
On December 31, a TCDC staff member visited the compactor after the council again received complaints that it wasn't working.
“Three bags had been placed in one go into the chute and it wouldn't close properly. If the chute can't close, the compactor won't work.
“Our staff member removed the bags, confirmed the compactor was working and cleared the rubbish around the compactor.”
On January 5, another contractor was sent to the compactor to clear rubbish and told us it was not working.
“The engineer examined the compactor and found the chute had been forced open.
He says it has sense been repaired and is working. Any additional rubbish left next to the compactor will be cleared.
“It's important that people follow the clear instructions on the compactor and only dispose of normal household rubbish at a cost of $2 per bag.
“Anything else should be taken to one of our seven refuse transfer stations.”
People can check their hours and locations on our website at www.tcdc.govt.nz/rts