Spot checks show about one in three people is misusing the yellow wheelie bin by putting in things like food scraps, used nappies, and clothing.
A team of four has begun visually inspecting the contents of recycling bins put out for kerbside collection as part of Christchurch City Council’s efforts to improve people’s understanding of what stuff can be recycled in the yellow bin.
While about two-thirds of people are clearly making an effort to recycle properly, about one-third appear to be using their yellow wheelie bin for general rubbish.
“The team has found nappies, food waste, blinds, and even hedgehogs in the recycling bins, which is just unacceptable,’’ says Christchurch City Council Solid Waste Manager Ross Trotter.
“The yellow bins are for specific household recyclable items and we will not tolerate them being used for general rubbish.’’
The only items that belong in the yellow bin are: Cardboard, aluminium cans, clear and coloured glass bottles, metal tins, plastic containers, aerosol cans, paper, plastic bottles and empty cleaning containers.
Bottles and containers must be rinsed and have their lids removed, and placed in the red bin, before they are put out for recycling.
“Some people are absolutely nailing their recycling. So far we’ve given out gold stars to about 14 per cent of the bins that have been inspected because they contained all the right stuff.
“We’ve left educational material for about half the properties whose bins have been checked because while they are generally recycling the right things, they are making some small mistakes,’’ Mr Trotter says.
“There is obviously still some confusion about soft plastics. Unfortunately we cannot accept soft plastics. Any plastic you can easily scrunch or bend in your hand – like plastic bags, cling film, bubble wrap, or biscuit trays – needs to go in the red bin.
“Another thing tripping people up is lids. Lids, even if they are made of plastic, need to be removed from bottles and containers and put in the red bin.
“The red bin too is where cartons that hold liquid belong. We cannot recycle juice or soy milk cartons,’’ Mr Trotter says.
“We’re hoping to see less contaminated material in the yellow bins as the 12-week bin check programme progresses and people take on board our tips for correct recycling.
“Bins are going to be inspected twice and we’re hoping that by the second visit the right stuff will be in the bins so that we can award more gold stars. Residents should also be aware than bins containing contamination may still not be collected by drivers, at any time they are contaminated.
“Last year 4128 tonnes of the wrong stuff was put in the yellow bins for kerbside collection. We want to dramatically reduce that figure this year and make sure we recycle as much as possible,’’ Mr Trotter says.