Southlanders are being encouraged to think twice about what they think is recyclable.

Dead dogs, used nappies, gas bottles and even live ammunition are just some of the items Southlanders have put in their yellow wheelie bins.

Sorting through the rubbish has become quite a distressing job for staff at Southland Disability Enterprise, who are charged with going through the region's recyclables.

General manager Ian Beaker says staff have had their lives put at risk and have been left traumatised after live shotgun shells exploded.

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He says disabled workers have also been left struggling for words after finding dead cats, dogs, hens and lambs along the line.