Contaminated recycling causing problems


Increasing contamination issues are affecting the cost of operating the Whakatāne District’s kerbside recycling service.


Whakatāne District Council Solid Waste Manager Nigel Clarke says unwanted items placed in the yellow-top recycling bins have resulted in a number of truckloads of recyclable waste being sent to landfill for disposal recently, resulting in extra transport costs and landfill charges.


“Our truck drivers use onboard cameras to monitor what’s going into the recycling truck, but often, by the time they realise a bin contains material that can’t be recycled – like general rubbish or greenwaste – it’s too late to do anything about it and the whole load has to be dumped,” he says. “The only waste items that can be put in in our yellow-lid bins are clean plastics, tins, cans, paper and cardboard.”


Mr Clarke says the Council’s solid waste contractor, Waste Management Limited, puts a warning sticker on any recycling bin containing unwanted contaminants, to reinforce the materials that can be recycled. “Records are kept on any properties where bins have been stickered and if there are repeated contamination issues, the recycling service may be withdrawn from those properties.


“The Whakatāne District is fortunate in that we are still able to recycle grades 1-7 plastics,” he adds. “Many other councils have reverted to recycling only grades 1 and 2 plastics, due to the turmoil that has struck international markets following China’s virtual withdrawal from plastic recycling. It is becoming more and more difficult to sell recyclables and if we are to continue our current service, it’s important that we only put recyclable material in our yellow-top bins.”