There is disappointment that the district’s recycling habits are slipping.
Ashburton District Council infrastructure services group manager, Neil McCann, says the trends show the district‘s recycling habits are getting worse after two years of monitoring.
“The wheelie bin system has been in place for five years now, with auditing being undertaken since 2020 and while most recycling bins are being used properly, it is disappointing that there’s still a small number of properties who need to get on board,” he said.
The council’s contractor has been actively carrying out bin audits since 2020, to raise awareness and ensure consistency in what goes in the bin to avoid loads being rejected and detoured to landfill – at an additional cost of around $1000 per load.
As part of the compliance monitoring, the council introduced a three-strike rule, with residents having their bins confiscated after three strikes for having contaminated bins and only after completing an education process is a bin returned.
“There was an initial surge of improvement at the beginning of the audits, but since then the numbers have been reasonably constant,” McCann said.
“Overall, the quality of recyclable materials collected has dramatically improved since the audits started.”
Figures show that the number of properties on the watch list, a first strike, jumped from 957 in March up to 1388 in August.
The number of properties on a second strike has stayed relatively steady, sitting at 827 in March then dropping down to 764 in May before being 862 at the end of August.
Three strike confiscations were also constant, averaging 133 per month across the six months, but in a positive it is slowly trending down with an increase in bins being returned.
“It’s encouraging to see more bins being returned to properties with very few repeat offenders.”
The council has no plans to stop auditing at this stage, McCann said.
“We believe that the audit system is an important factor in helping to keep those contamination levels low.
“Creating awareness around products and providing education for the public is a better use of funds than sending material to landfill.”
Since the system was introduced, only four loads have been rejected, he said, but none have been since the council started to send its recycling to Timaru earlier this year.
- By Jonathan Leask