Rural Napier residents may resort to burning their plastic waste since plastics have been banned at Napier's only recycling station.
Puketitiri Rd resident Brian Mackie noticed a sign at Redclyffe Transfer Station, Napier, alerting users plastics would not be accepted at the Springfield Rd facility from today.
The ban was described as a temporary measure based on "high contamination levels".
Household plastic containers grades one to seven and plastic supermarket bags would still be collected by the kerbside recycling service, the sign said.
The ban came after Onekawa's Transpacific Recycling station had also stopped accepting plastics, Mr Mackie said. He was concerned "the whole of the rural area up to Tutira and perhaps beyond", which did not have a kerbside recycling service, would have to resort to burning their plastics or travelling to Hastings transfer stations to dispose of them.
"I can't even take a plastic shopping bag there [to Redclyffe]," he said.
Napier City Council corporate communication manager Robin McLean said the "high contamination" at Redclyffe was a result of a significant number of people not rinsing or separating their plastics before disposing of them at the station.
"People were treating it as a free-for-all," Ms McLean said. "They were trying to avoid going to the dump."
Asked where Napier residents without kerbside collection should take their plastics, Ms McLean responded: "I don't know where the closest one [recycling depot] would be."
An open agenda for a meeting held by the Napier City Service Committee last month said the volume and contamination levels of plastic at Redclyffe Transfer Station had increased "significantly" in recent months.
Contamination products included plastic furniture, industrial-sized drums, polystyrene, toys, and parts of car interiors.
Visitors were taking advantage of the service to dispose of industrial and non-recyclable items which were not accepted in the kerbside collection.
Mr Mackie said it was unfair for Napier residents who did not have kerbside recycling to be stopped recycling their plastics at Redclyffe.
"Why should the great majority of people who are responsible and interested in recycling be punished because of the interests of a few?"
The meeting agenda said to manage the contamination and resulting high volumes, a recycling educator had been employed temporarily for the Christmas-New Year period, causing a significant decrease in plastic contamination. However, the combined cost of plastic recycling and payment of the educator was about $4000 a month and contamination of plastic recycling had returned to levels preceding the educator.
Plastic recycling at the Redclyffe Transfer Station was exceeding budget by about $40,000 a year.
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said recycling at the station was being stopped temporarily while the council looked at other options. "The current contamination levels create a massive cost which council cannot continue to carry," Mr Dalton said. "It's disappointing. We employed an education officer to try to teach people about what they can and can't put in there but whenever they weren't around, the bins would fill up with inappropriate material yet again."
Mr Mackie was unsatisfied by the council's explanation of the ban. "If it [Redclyffe] is under-resourced, it should be properly resourced irrespective of contamination, because the amount of plastics being consumed is increasing," he said.