A person dumping adult diapers at a Hawke’s Bay seaside recycling site could force the council to close it, leaving the community with a 45-minute drive to do their recycling.
Waimarama Domain recycling centre is one contamination away from losing its site after three consecutive containers went to landfill.
According to Hastings District Council, everything from dirty adult diapers to broken window panes has made its way into the recycling bins in recent months.
Hastings District councillor for the Kahuranaki Ward and Waimarama resident Sophie Siers said the green containers will be gone before summer if the contamination continues.
“Most residents and visitors are mindful of how to dispose of rubbish and recycling, but unfortunately we’re still struggling to get the message out that careful separating and cleaning of recycling products is paramount,” she said.
“The contamination level is getting higher and higher and they are going ‘if this happens again …’ This is our final strike.”
Hastings District Council group manager asset management Craig Thew said while removing recycling site is a “last resort”, it is a possibility.
“Over recent months we’ve seen anything from adult diapers to smashed glass jars still containing food products and sheet glass,” he said. “All of which result in any legitimate recyclable products at the facility being sent to landfill for disposal.
“Significant efforts are going into helping ensure the wider public is aware of the issues and know what good recycling looks like.”
Waimarama residents currently pay $80 per year for a weekly rubbish pick-up, with additional payments for orange bags.
Siers said she feared residents would have to travel to the nearest recycling station to Waimarama – the Henderson Rd site in Flaxmere 45 minutes away – if the issue continues.
The councillor said if more residents understood the financial implications, they’d soon change their bad habits.
“We pay to have the bins collected and taken to the recycling site, which pay us for it. But when it’s rejected we have to then pay to have it taken to landfill and then again for the cost of disposal,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity to reduce waste and reduce costs to the ratepayer that we aren’t taking. People really need to understand that it’s a commercial transaction.”
“It could and should be cost-neutral,” she added.
Thew said a council-led waste team are available to take phone calls or happy to attend community meetings to discuss any issues.
Extensive lists of what can and cannot be recycled can be found on the Hastings District Council website.