Mixed results in NPDC audit of kerbside recycling bins

23 February 2021

A rise in non-recyclable rubbish being dumped in recycling bins has prompted calls for people to lift their Zero Waste awareness.

A summer survey of nearly 300 household recycling bins across the district showed that contamination – or non-recyclable items – is on the rise compared to previous years.

The number of homes getting a three-month suspension from recycling collection has also increased due to contamination – up from five in February last year to 50 now.

“The survey shows we’ve scored some recycling wins, with non-recyclable soft plastics in the yellow bins down from more than half of households two years ago to 9% now, and contamination from takeaway coffee cups – which aren’t recyclable – fell from about 9% to under 5%,” says NPDC Manager Resource and Recovery Kimberley Hope. 

“But the slight rise overall in contamination shows we need to do better at checking the items before placing in the recycling bin, as we all end up wearing the extra landfill and environmental costs that this brings as we move towards our Zero Waste goal.” 

The survey spotlighted Ōākura as the best recycling suburb, with the least contamination at 5.3% on average, followed by Lepperton, Highlands Park, Merrilands and Inglewood. Coming in last, with some room to improve, were Fitzroy and Marfell (equal on an average of 21% contamination), just behind Bell Block East, Hurdon and Strandon.

The survey was separate from the regular bin inspections, where 150 bins are checked for contamination each day across Taranaki region year-round.

Bin inspectors and collection vehicle drivers both check bins for contamination, and collectors will not empty a recycling bin if it has too much contamination.

“By rinsing out bottles and containers and removing lids, recycling will drastically improve. It’s also important to place used tissues and plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 into the red landfill bin, along with products made out of more than one material – such as chip canisters, long-life juice and milk cartons, and toy packaging,” says Ms Hope. 

An easy checklist of what items go in the red landfill bin or yellow recycling bin is on the NPDC Recycling and Rubbish app which can be downloaded to your phone on Android and iPhone or you can go to the recycling guide on our website.

a woman standing behind a recycling bin