Rubbish & recycling  |  6 May 2020

Residents continuing to put garden waste and other rubbish in their yellow wheelie bin are threatening the viability of the city’s recycling operation.

The EcoSort recycling facility resumed operating on Monday after being closed during the Level 4 lockdown, but many of trucks destined for the plant had to be turned away because there was too much contaminated material in the bins.

If there is more than 10 per cent of contaminated material in the recycling stream, it cannot be processed through the facility as the quality of the product will be too poor to attract any buyers.

“On Monday about quarter of the material collected from the yellow wheelie bins was stuff that doesn’t belong in the recycling stream. The contamination levels were so high that only four truckloads of material could be sent for recycling. The other 18 truckloads of material that was collected had to be sent to landfill,’’ says Christchurch City Council Resource Recovery Manager Ross Trotter.

“The average level of contamination in the material collected on Tuesday was lower - at around 15 to 20 per cent - but we still had to send 15 truckloads of material to the landfill rather than to the recycling facility.

“We cannot afford for that situation to continue so we need everyone to make a big effort to ensure only clean cardboard, paper, tin and aluminium cans, glass bottles, and rigid plastic bottles and containers marked with the numbers 1, 2 or 5 go in the yellow wheelie bin.

“Those items should all be clean and loose. If you have bottles or containers with lids, take the lids off and put them in the red bin,’’ Mr Trotter says.

"Garden and food waste doesn’t belong in the yellow bin. It should go in the green wheelie bin.''

“We want to be open and transparent with the public about how we’re tracking with our recycling, so each day of the kerbside collection we’ll be displaying on our website how many truckloads of material from the yellow bins is being recycled and how much is ending up at the landfill.

“Our goal is to see all of the material collected from the yellow wheelie bins going to the EcoSort  but our ability to achieve that relies on everyone playing their part,’’ Mr Trotter says.

Learn what items can go into your yellow bin at or use the handy Christchurch City Council wheelie bins app.