Recycle correctly or face losing your service, the Waipa District Council warns.
Recycling contamination continues to grow in quantity and cost at an alarming rate. Almost half the district's recycling heads to landfill because people put the wrong items in their recycling bins.
Council operations team leader Jennifer Braithwaite says the issue had reached a crisis point and was costing on average up to $33,000 per month to deal with.
"Contamination of mixed and glass recycling has soared since lockdown, with an average of 206 tonne of recycling heading to the landfill each month," says Braithwaite.
"We're seeing everything from bags full of rubbish to used medical products, needles, dog poo, dirty nappies and just last week dead fish coming through the sorting line. Other contamination such as car motor oil and other liquids have forced the closure of the production line for major clean-ups.
"Items like these can contaminate an entire load of recyclable materials."
Costs to deal with contaminated recycling include transporting the material to landfill, disposing of it and the loss of revenue from otherwise good product that could have been sold on the recycling market.
Jennifer says the council's recycling contractor regularly inspected bins across the district to try to manage contamination.
"A key way to tackle this issue is to inspect bins before they are collected to ensure only good, clean recycling has been put inside the wheelie bin," she says.
"Contaminated bins are stickered in the first instance and not collected. On the next collection, if contamination is found, the property owners will be notified and their bin won't be emptied.
"After a third offence, the property owners will receive a letter from council and service may be suspended to that property. Households with extreme contamination could face having their service removed permanently."
Since lockdown, as a result of regular bin inspections and driver vigilance, 13 households have had their service suspended because of ongoing contamination.
Braithwaite says all residents need to help reduce contamination.
"This isn't something we can achieve by ourselves. There are some fantastic recyclers in our communities who are doing a great job but there are others who knowingly and blatantly put stuff like rubbish, dirty nappies and car motor oil in their recycling bins and don't seem to care about the effect this is having on the service.
"If you do see someone, be that a neighbour or anyone putting rubbish or contamination into their wheelie bin, please report it to council and help us tackle this issue."
More information on recycling in Waipā can be found at www.waipadc.govt.nz/recycling.