There’s plenty of reasons to recycle
I was approached by a citizen on our last rubbish day about a black and yellow recycling wheelie bin that appeared to be overflowing with tree branches and other green waste.
Would this non-recyclable (but organic) green waste contaminate our recycling stream and result in the entire load being dumped?
I confirmed with the council solid waste manager that if we place non-recyclable items (e.g. polystyrene foam, electrical goods, nappies, green waste) into the black and yellow wheelie bin then, yes, we are contaminating the recycling stream.
If it can be detected at kerbside then the wheelie bin will not be emptied. If it is still collected then it can be removed from the recycling at the sorting facility.
While it is reassuring to know that a misplaced nappy does not totally derail our recycling programme, contamination of this kind makes the end product less useful and increases costs, undermining the sustainability of these types of programmes. So it is worthwhile taking the extra minute to sort recycling correctly.
Perhaps of greater concern is contamination of our general refuse with recyclable materials.
Glass, tin cans, plastics, paper and cardboard are all valuable resources that are bought and sold on the open market.
It simply doesn’t make sense for these materials to end up in the landfill, especially when every tonne of waste collected at kerbside costs around $120 to throw away – a cost which is expected to rise.
This cost is transferred to kerbside collection customers in their targeted rates and when they purchase additional bags. When recycling is done correctly it can save the ratepayer money and is the far better option environmentally.
In the 2015/16 year MatamataPiako District Council collected over 9000 tonnes of rubbish, of which more than 40 per cent was recycled.
There is scope to do even better, and the council is reviewing a range of different ideas for working with the community to better manage and minimise the waste generated in our district.
While we are working through this process, there are many daily choices we can consider to further divert waste from the landfill.
In your wheelie bin you can place: Clean plastic (grades 1-7); clean tins/cans; paper and cardboard. In your green bin you can place clean glass bottles (all colours, but not drinking glasses or broken glass like windows).
As for garden and other green waste, home composting may be an option to consider.
The council also accepts this type of material at our transfer stations for industrial composting and although charges apply, it is much cheaper than dumping.
For more information, go to our website kerbside.co.nz or watch our video on Youtube.
-James Sainsbury is a Matamata Ward Councillor.