The contents of yellow wheelie bins put out for kerbside collection in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula will start going to landfill from next week to protect the safety of staff at the processing plant.
EcoCentral has advised Christchurch City Council it is temporarily suspending operations at its Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), which unfortunately means there is no capacity to sort and process the mixed paper, plastic and glass put out for recycling.
“This is not an ideal situation but EcoCentral is concerned about the safety of its staff and their potential exposure to COVID-19,’’ says Council City Services General Manager David Adamson.
“EcoCentral staff have to handle the recycling to remove contaminated products and that puts them at risk.
“The global impact of the COVID-19 crisis is also impacting on Eco-Central’s ability to sell into overseas markets so the company has made the call to temporarily suspend its operations.’’
There is no capacity to store the recyclable material so it will have to go to landfill until the MRF resumes operations.
Mr Adamson says if people are struggling to fit all their general rubbish in their red wheelie bin during the lockdown, they can put any excess in the yellow wheelie bin. However, this will be a short-term measure only.
“We’re relaxing the rules for the period of the lockdown but as soon as the MRF reopens we will need people to resume using their yellow bins for accepted recyclable materials only. We cannot afford to let contaminated materials into the recycling stream – every 1 per cent of contamination costs us about $75,000,’’ Mr Adamson says.
"Please make sure that you continue to only put organic materials in the green wheelie bin. Bins should continue to be put out at the normal time.’’
Mr Adamson says if people are having issues with the capacity of their wheelie bins because of the COVID-19 lockdown, they should contact the Council Call Centre on 0800 800 149 or 941-8999.
Many other Councils around the country have also been forced to suspend their recycling operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.