Contamination doubles - we need your help

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Seven months into the new rubbish and recycling contract, contamination in the recycling collection has more than doubled.


Contamination is any item or material that is not meant to be in the recycling bin and regularly ranges from grass clippings to medical waste, soiled nappies and a couple of weeks ago a number of complete sheep carcasses. While it is generally accepted that there will be a small amount of contamination due to residents accidentally placing items in the wrong bin, the levels and types of items currently found in recycling bins put the health and safety of staff sorting these materials as well as the viability of the recycling scheme at risk.

As contamination has increased, we have audited a number of recycling bins as well as truck loads from different areas of town. Contamination in individual bins as well as whole trucks has been found well above our target level of 8% or less. Any costs incurred, any downtime, any loss of value of the recycled materials due to contamination ends up costing ratepayers money.

“We strongly encourage residents to take note of what can and can’t be put into recycling bins. If in doubt leave it out,” says Sven Hanne Director Assets.

Another issue is plastic bags, no matter whether they are full or empty. Bags themselves frequently get caught in the conveyor belts and other machinery, requiring lengthy shutdowns of the sorting facility to remove their remains. Bags have also been used to hide “rubbish” inside the recycling bin. As a result the contractor has gotten more vigilant in refusing to empty bins containing bags.

“We are aware that some residents pre sort their recycling into plastic bags. While we appreciate the intent, this is not helpful when the material gets to the sorting facility. Everything needs to be loose in the bin.”

Collection trucks are equipped with cameras in the truck hopper and a GPS based database is used to trace contamination issues. The collection truck operators follow a sticker system to provide feedback to household residents of any contamination issues and reasons why the bin may not have been emptied. Repeat offenders will also receive letters from Council and after three offences the service to the property will cease until the residents can demonstrate compliance.

For more information on what can be put in recycling bins click here.  If in doubt, leave it out!