The campaign is aimed at educating residents to put the right things in their recycling bin. Council rubbish and recycling asset engineer Natasha Simmons says Palmerston North residents were amongst the worst in the country for putting the wrong things in their recycling bins.
"The contamination rate has now dropped from a high of 25% to 12% which is great, Natasha said. "That's a huge credit to residents and is a great step forward as we start to realise our city's sustainability goals. The whole recycling team wants to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped improve the quality of the items in the recycling."
Natasha says the high contamination rate has meant increased costs of providing the recycling service through increased processing costs, disposal costs and wear and tear on our processing facility.
"For our team there's nothing worse than trying to separate dirty nappies from milk containers, so in the end we can't recycle items that have been contaminated by the waste in the recycling bins," Natasha said.
Natasha Simmons says overall the campaign has been received really well by the majority of residents. The campaign involved placing stickers on those recycling bins that contained contaminated items and stickers on items in the glass crates that aren't accepted.
"Residents may have seen runners running ahead of our recycling trucks checking the contents of the recycling bins. The stickers contained notifications that were elevated from 1 to 2 (in which case we don't empty the bin and ask the resident to remove the contamination and place the bin out on their next collection day) to 3 and on the third notice Council's recycling educator contacted the resident to arrange a visit to talk through what can and can't be recycled."
Despite the overall success of the campaign a small core group, a little more than 40 residents, have repeatedly been using their recycling bin to dump rubbish. Natasha says given the repeat nature of the contamination from this core group Council has decided that after six months of education it is time to suspend the service.
ve been left with little choice. All they need to do is write to Council stating that they will use the recycling appropriately and then the service will be reinstated. Although, the recycling team will keep a close eye on it to ensure old habits don't re-emerge."
Natasha Simmons says most residents won't notice a change as a mistake here and there is not a problem. And, if residents do make mistakes on a consistent basis then they'll be advised through the use of the 1,2,3 stickers.