Recycling bins confiscated in Christchurch after residents ignore pleas to separate waste


A growing number of Christchurch households have lost their right to recycle as the city council takes a hard line on people who refuse to separate their waste.

Twenty-six yellow bins have been confiscated by the Christchurch City Council and another 52 will be removed from city streets over the next two weeks.

The residents have been warned three times but continue to put contaminated waste in their recycling bins.

To get the bins back, they will have to pay $97.65 and sign a statement promising to abide by the rules. Their bins will be monitored to make sure they keep that promise.

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The council has spent about $1.3 million sending 1305 truckloads of contaminated material from yellow bins to landfill since May. That equates to about 42 per cent of all yellow bins.

During the first three days of this week, 34 trucks were sent to landfill and 54 were recycled.

In 2019, just 23 truckloads of recycling went to landfill. Trucks containing more than 10 per cent rubbish have to be dumped.

People are still throwing rubbish like nappies, dead animals, guns, washing baskets, vacuum cleaners, chainsaws and seat belts in recycling bins.

joseph johnson/Stuff

People are still throwing rubbish like nappies, dead animals, guns, washing baskets, vacuum cleaners, chainsaws and seat belts in recycling bins.

EcoCentral – the council-owned company that sorts all the yellow bin recycling and operates three transfer stations – regularly finds nappies, dead animals, guns, washing baskets, vacuum cleaners, chainsaws and seat belts in the recycling.

“Duck shooting season has finished so the ducks have stopped [appearing in bins] thankfully and lambing is finishing so the lambs have stopped,” EcoCentral commercial and compliance manager Averil​ Stevenson​ told the council this week.

The council told residents recycling had to be sent to landfill during the four-week Covid-19 lockdown – when EcoCentral suspended its recycling operations – and any rubbish that could not fit in a red wheelie bin could be put in the yellow one.

While that was supposed to be only a temporary measure, people have continued the practice.

The council had since tried to educate residents on how to recycle, and while some people were listening, others refused to improve, Stevenson said.

The Christchurch City Council is confiscating yellow bins from people who repeatedly refuse to follow the rules.

Joseph Johnson/Stuff

The Christchurch City Council is confiscating yellow bins from people who repeatedly refuse to follow the rules.

The lack of good quality recycling was having a huge impact at EcoCentral, as hours had been reduced for its 30 staff and they were doing less productive jobs just to keep busy, she said.

The company was also unable to fulfil the demand for recyclable material from countries crying out for good quality stock because other countries were still in lockdown and not processing recycling.

Stevenson asked the council to increase auditing at the kerb side and remove bins at a quicker rate.

Council resource recovery acting manager Rowan Latham said the $97.65 cost to reinstate the bin covered the administration cost of the confiscation process.

If a resident chose not to pay the money and only use their red bin it would reduce contamination in the recycling trucks, he said.

“The cost of reinstatement and the required statement regarding the bylaw are intended to provide the suitable incentive to dissuade non-compliant use of the service.”

Latham said the council had developed education material, including bin lid stickers, and it had delivered a recycling guide to all households.

It was also working on campaigns to reward correct recycling.