Think 'What's in your bin?' to curb contamination

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Published: 10 Dec 2020

Timaru District residents are being asked to help reclaim their recycling top spot by thinking What’s in your Bin?

The district was the first to introduce the three bin system and for many years was a leader in recycling, but since the COVID-19 lockdown, 45 per cent of its recycling has been going to landfill because of contamination with items such as food, nappies, engine parts and chemicals.

Timaru District Council is now asking residents What’s In Your Bin?, producing new guides and resources to remind people what should go in their recycling, organic waste and general rubbish bins. Clean recyclables in the yellow bin, organic material only in the green bin and household rubbish in the red bin.

The Council website has also been updated to make it even easier for residents to sort their rubbish, recycling and organic waste.

Timaru District Councillor Barbara Gilchrist said that the district was once a leader in waste minimisation, but along the way people seem to have let it slide off their radar.

“We’re seeing far too many recyclable items going to landfill and sorting our recycling has become a very unpleasant job for staff who have to pick through it by hand,” she said.

“Meat products, sanitary pads and nappies are not things we should be seeing anywhere near recyclable plastics, paper and cans.

“One contaminated recycling bin not only prevents items from that bin being recycled, but may contaminate all of the recyclable material in the back of a Council truck. Severe contamination can even shut down the entire recycling centre while conveyor belts and other equipment are cleaned.

“This not only costs us as ratepayers, it also wastes valuable landfill space.”

Each week during the What’s In Your Bin? campaign, Timaru District Council will be identifying a champion recycler who will receive a prize for their good work.

“We know that the vast majority of Timaru District residents want to do what’s best for our environment,” said Barbara.

“While the overall aim is to reduce the amount we’re sending to landfill, putting inappropriate things in your yellow bin can significantly increase the amount of material that ends up there.

“We’re asking people to take a moment to ensure they sort their waste properly and ask themselves what’s in your bin? – that moment has the potential to benefit the whole community.”

To help keep track of the district’s bins an RFID tag is attached to each of them.  Council trucks will only collect bins with the tag, so if bins are not collected, residents need to call the Council and arrange for tags to be assigned to them.

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021