Waimakariri residents are on their final warning to stop treating their recycling bins like rubbish bins.
It has almost four months since the Waimakariri District Council implored residents to lift their recycling game, without success.
Solid waste asset manager Kitty Waghorn said between May 4 and July 31, 179 truckloads of recycling had to be dumped because they were too contaminated with rubbish.
That cost ratepayers an extra $122,700 in dumping fees.
The council is now preparing to take action.
* Waimakariri council considers confiscating bins from repeat recycling offenders
* New plastic recycling rules for Waimakariri after coronavirus compounds export options
* Waimakariri council encourages residents to sign up for kerbside collection alerts
“The rate of rubbish making its way into recycling bins has jumped in recent months and is now so high that most kerbside recycling is going to landfill,’’ Waghorn said.
“To help educate people, we will be hitting the streets soon to spot check that people are putting the right items in the right bin.’’
While many residents were doing the right thing, it took only one bad bin to contaminate a whole truckload of recycling.
“We can’t afford for this level of contamination to continue, and need everyone to check they’re recycling correctly.’’
Bin checks were the best way to see first-hand whether people understood what could be recycled, Waghorn said.
Information packs containing an updated recycling bin lid sticker and more information about how to use the kerbside bins would arrive in mailboxes in the next few weeks.
Flyers will be left after bin checks to let residents know if their bins were ‘spot on’ or ‘could do better’.
Badly contaminated bins will not be collected and a tag will be left to let residents know why it was not emptied and what they need to do to improve their recycling.
Common offending items include soft plastics like cling-film and pet food bags, plastic lids and any plastic not marked 1, 2 or 5.
Unwashed bottles and containers were also a problem, but worse still was general household rubbish including dirty nappies and food scraps.
Waghorn said repeatedly putting rubbish or the wrong items in the yellow bin would result in the bin being confiscated. The homeowner would still be charged for the kerbside service through their rates.
Contaminated recycling has also been a big problem in neighbouring Christchurch this year.
Tuckloads of yellow bin rubbish were needlessly sent to landfill every day in the 12 weeks to July 25, costing ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A report by industry experts WasteMINZ has recommended standardising recycling across the country, which could mean separating recycling for kerbside collection.
Waghorn said the Waimakariri council had not yet considered the implications of the report.
Waimakariri had a unique opt-in collection service, allowing residents to choose whether to use bags or bins, and whether to have a green bin – something which had taken a lot of public consultation.
The bin spot checks would begin in October, she said.
“We’re really committed to our recycling programme’s success and are asking everyone to take a closer look at their recycling to make sure they’ve got it right.’’
Waimakariri residents can visit rethinkrubbish.co.nz or call 0800 965 468 to learn what items can go into their yellow bin.