More than 400 tonnes of recycling has been sent to the landfill in Wellington during alert level 2 – the city’s facilities couldn’t deal with it.
And that’s not counting the 70 tonnes of recycling not recycled during level 3.
The recycling put on the kerb by residents at level 2 has hit “overwhelming volumes”, Wellington City Council waste operations manager Emily Taylor-Hall said.
During the three weeks at level 2, 20 tonnes was sent to the Southern Landfill every day.
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“The sorting plant did not have the capacity to deal with the amount collected in the first three weeks of collections resuming,” Taylor-Hall said.
That was despite asking residents to not put everything out in one go. With the sorting plant under pressure recycling had to go to the landfill.
During level 3, recycling in wheelie bins or bags collected on May 12 and 14 was also taken to the landfill.
Approximately 70 tonnes of rubbish intended for recycling was sent to the landfill over those dates, Taylor-Hall said.
It meant the total recycling sent to the landfill during the Covid-19 response was approaching 500 tonnes.
But there’s some good news for those who’ve been hoarding their recycling – the council’s bulk recycling facility has now reopened.
As people clear out their garages and homes of hoarded recycling, the centre is expecting queues, and Taylor-Hall warned traffic may be turned away if they become too long.
“We are advising people to drop off items to the Recycling Centre on their assigned recycling day, where possible, to avoid large queues, and the bins being filled to capacity early in the day.”
Everything brought to the recycling centre would actually be recycled – if it was clean and not contaminated with food.
Clean glass, plastic, cans, paper and cardboard can be dropped off but the site is currently not accepting textiles, E-waste or donations to the Tip Shop, which is closed at level 2.
To keep queueing to a minimum, visitors are being asked to sort their recycling before they visit.
Can and plastics should go together, paper and card should be kept separate and glass should be sorted by colour.
The Hutt City Council’s facilities are also reopening. From Wednesday, the Wainuiomata, Kelson and Seaview recycling facilities are open.
“The recycling stations are for domestic use only, and we advise users to wear gloves at all times,” a council statement said.
“Please be mindful of the volume of recycling that you are disposing of during this time and check the signs at the station to ensure that the material is actually recyclable.”
Any material left outside the bins would be sent to landfill.
Decisions are yet to be made regarding the opening dates of recycling stations at Alicetown and Naenae.
“This is due to ongoing illegal dumping and risks around contamination at these sites,” the statement said.