Bottle bins create wrong impression

This photo, from a Facebook community page, triggered a huge amount of comment. Photo: Supplied.

It looks heartening, but can also be an eyesore and a menace.

The recycling bins stationed around town are often chock-a-block with bottles, and bottles that can’t be crammed down the spout are mounting up around the bins.

It seems when a city’s will to recycle is challenged by the cancellation of a private kerbside collection, it will find new ways to save the planet.

“That’s nice,” says Marty Hoffart, the waste warrior, director of the waste minimisation group, Waste watchers Limited. But, he warns, don’t be fooled - don’t be deceived.

“Everyone wants recycling bins out there in the community,” says Marty, “but the problem is they are the most expensive and inefficient way of collecting and recycling beverage containers.

And when Mount Maunganui Intermediate School opened for class on Monday morning, the bottle bins in the school carpark were spilling over and hundreds of loose bottles were scattered around. The school cried “enough”.

Recyclers could take their bottles a few hundred metres up the road to the Te Maunga transfer station, and the kids would be spared the mess and stay safe.

Marty Hoffart says the bins aren’t helping long term, and he again pitches the internationally proven legislated container deposit system. 

“Then we wouldn’t see any bottles or bottle dumps out there in the community. There wouldn’t be the need for people to dispose of their bottles publically.

“But until containers have a value, until they’re worth ten cents, many people will just continue to throw them out the window of their car, leave them on the footpath or stick them in council rubbish bins.”

Marty says this week, the beverage industry will have seen all the social media pictures of recycling bins spilling over and think “great”. They give the impression that everyone’s recycling, but Marty says the bottles might represent just two per cent of the population, with many still conveniently sticking containers in their wheelie bins at home, skip bins at work and sending them off to landfills.

“It’s all the containers we don’t see, the one billion containers that go to the landfill every year and have done for 30 years.”

There are other issues with bottle banks which, in the last 20 years, have been tried and the bins were eventually pulled from locations around Tauranga.

“They became magnets for other rubbish – TVs, lounge suites, whatever. But they were unmanned, they couldn’t control what people left there.” The bins can be a band aid but they’re not the answer.

“At some of these drop off points there’s such a huge volume of glass,” says Marty.

“I don’t know at what stage people hosting the bins will start getting annoyed about the mess around the bins, when there are bottles and glass strewn everywhere.”

There have already been online complaints. One person said: “The bins were overflowing so I couldn’t get rid of my bottles. Please send a complaint to council if you agree there might be a better way.” Another said “Tauranga ... you’re fortunate this lot isn’t on your doorstep!”

And on the bottle mountain at the intermediate school, one said: “Children don’t need to see this when they get to school in the morning.”

And they won’t. The school decided the bottle bins had become a health and safety issue and they were ordered to be removed.

Marty says someone’s going to have to clean up and that’s going to cost. “Recyclable glass is quite low value, so it’s not great business for a truck to come and clear a site for just $60 or $70. With people leaving bottles around the bins, it’s not going to be long before the costs outweigh the benefits.

“The beverage industry just wants to externalise all its costs – they have done it for years. They want everyone else to pay to clean up their products and packaging.”

Marty Hoffart’s advocating something called product stewardship – building the cost of recycling into the purchase price of the product – the same system used with tyres, televisions, electronic waste and beverage containers.

In other words, a legislated container deposit scheme and advanced recycling fees on other hard to recycle products like tyres and TVs. It’s fair because it builds the cost of recycling onto the purchaser and the producer, not the ratepayer and the taxpayer. 

To cope with an expected increase in recycled glass volumes, Tauranga City Council this week expanded the glass storage bays and drop off areas at its two waste transfer stations.

It’s also looking at a rates-funded kerbside glass collection to divert as much as 6000 tonnes of glass per year from landfill. It could start this year.


7 Comments

Half a dozen bottle bins

Posted on 16-03-2018 20:33 | By The Caveman

in half the suburbs in Tauranga! 1. they will be FULL every day2. the residents in suburbs that don’t have bottle bin will NOT drive across twon - it will ALL go int the rubbish.And one MUST ask, WHO in the Council signed a re-cycling contact with a private company, that allows the private company to WALK AWAY from a MAJOR part of the contract ( GLASS COLLECTION) with NO council comeback !!! Name please - and if this is in fact that case, the the Council Manager concerned should be DOWN THE ROAD.

M.Mouse

Posted on 16-03-2018 18:25 | By M. Mouse

At a school really who’s idear was that.H&S would love that lots of glass at a school Idiots!How about large bins at the bigger supermarkets obviously there is a niche for

Bins for glass

Posted on 16-03-2018 16:01 | By davidt5

The recyclers promised that there would be bins available into which the empty bottles could be placed.I have checked their advertisement looking for the sites, but there are no locations listed. Do they really think we are going to make a special trip to the recycling station to get rid of these bottles?In the meantime the bottles will go straight in to the rubbish bag which will then end up being buried at a rubbish dump.So much for progress in the supposedly modern city of Tauranga.

Yip

Posted on 16-03-2018 13:25 | By overit

We all knew that would happen. Lucky they haven’t been broken.

Predictable

Posted on 16-03-2018 12:47 | By The Sage

This isn’t the only place bottles are being dumped. Can’t say I blame the school for taking this stance. My local supermarket is having them dumped, in plastic bags, in their garden surrounding the carpark. There will be lots of other public places I am sure. It should never have gotten to this stage and the Council need to get their act together immediately, not months down the track.

Failure

Posted on 16-03-2018 12:38 | By waiknot

This is council failing in one of their core services. When the service was contracted out, the level of service needed to be specified. Failing that Waste Management signaled this changes last year giving council plenty of time to come up with an alternative.

Clean Green Tauranga?

Posted on 16-03-2018 12:25 | By RichT

Saw the same thing at Countdown in Bethlehem.At what point do our Council start doing their job and sort this problem out?Rubbish and recycling collection should never have been given to private contractors, they’re in it for the money, not the environment. The Council’s job is to look after the city, clearly, they are not doing that.

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