Litter Compliance Policy Update

This morning, Spokes Dunedin met up with Chris Henderson, Group Manager of Waste and Environmental Solutions at the DCC, to talk about our submission regarding the Litter Compliance Policy review:

Even though it was an agreeable chat, the take home message was sadly not as agreeable.

Essentially, changes to the Litter Compliance Policy won’t encourage the principle enforcers involved, e.g., the police and university proctor, to take more action than they already are. This is because the main issue remains: a lack of resources. The fine is too low ($150 through the uni; $400 via the DCC) for resources to be used to identify the perpetrators. Therefore, even if CCTV was used for such incidents – which it’s (legally) not – the time and effort it would take to find out who a culprit was, is not deemed proportional.

Chris explained that the resources are also not available for regularly clearing up litter strewn throughout the city, as opposed to only certain (central) areas.

He felt that the best bet is to await the beverage container return scheme, which should roll out throughout the country in the next couple of years:

https://environment.govt.nz/what-government-is-doing/areas-of-work/waste/container-return-scheme-reducing-waste-landfill/

(Chris assured Spokes that the DCC would be embracing the scheme, and that they were currently in talks as to how it would work within the city).

However, in the meantime! Spokes will be writing a submission for the university’s review of its Discipline Statute 2011:

https://www.otago.ac.nz/administration/otago826361.html

One of the new provisions will grant the proctor the power to issue a Notice to Clear Rubbish where a student residence has a significant rubbish issue: “The rubbish would need to either be a health and safety issue or have a negative visual impact on others. Failure to comply could result in fines.” The premise must be occupied by a student and be “visible from a public place or from the property of another and having an adverse effect on the visual amenity of that place or property; or such as to comprise a hazard to health or safety of any person.”

Yet, the High Court has confirmed that the university’s responsibility for “good government and discipline” goes beyond the boundaries of the physical campus to cover the way in which members of the university community interact with one another and with the wider community.

In this sense, such action shouldn’t be confined to the premise, but explicitly include the public space around the premise: it’s the smashed glass and other litter in these public spaces that presents a hazard for the wider community.

Ultimately, however, more focus should be place on preventative measures: such anti-social behaviour should be curbed and the University of Otago has massive part to play in this.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 7 May.

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