Recycling inspectors will form part of the new council rubbish collection services from July.
It means residents in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty could face having their kerbside bins left uncollected if they repeatedly do not dispose of their trash efficiently.
EnviroWaste Services Limited, who have been contracted to undertake the new rates-funded kerbside collection services in the region, are currently advertising the newly created role for the Western Bay of Plenty area.
Tauranga City Council will appoint a ‘kerbside contamination officer’ to conduct a similar role.
The job will involve random inspections of resident’s household bins to ensure efficient recycling and reduction of unnecessary landfill.
Explaining the role of the kerbside contamination officer, Tauranga City Council sustainability and waste manager Sam Fellows says the job will involve educating the community on how to recycle better.
“Recycling bins contaminated with unwashed or incorrect items are often sent to landfill, which costs more and is a waste of valuable resources,” Sam explains.
“As part of the new kerbside service, recycling bins will be checked randomly by the officer and households will be assigned a different coloured tag, depending on the quality of their recycling.”
A green tag will be assigned to those who are recycling well, an orange tag to those who need to improve and a red tag to those who have too many incorrect or unwashed items.
Being labelled with a red tag could result in recycling not being collected until improvements are made.
Reasons for recycling being deemed inefficient vary from incorrect items to those that have not been cleaned prior to disposal.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council deputy CEO and group manager infrastructure services, Gary Allis confirms they have not yet finalised their own contamination plan with contractor EnviroWaste but that it would be “similar” to the one adopted by Tauranga City Council.
The cost of the new positions will be included under the annual targeted rates for both regions.
EnviroWaste states the new roles will help educate residents and improve any lack of understanding regarding what materials should go where.
“In some locations around New Zealand, there are reports of occasions where up to 40 per cent of recycling is contaminated as often well-intentioned people mix non-recyclables in their bins at home,” says a company spokesperson.
“The bin inspector has an important role to play in working closely with Council and helping to educate the public.
“Bin inspectors conduct random inspections of recycling bins for the purpose of advising residents how they’re going with recycling and to help them become a recycling champion if required.”
EnviroWaste suggests other similar programmes across New Zealand have been hugely successful, with some contamination reduction rates dropping from 40 per cent to four or six per cent due to regular bin inspections and education.
Safety is also a contributory factor behind the new roles, with EnviroWaste hoping to prevent sorting staff coming into contact with hazardous materials such as hypodermic needles, diapers, household chemicals and more.
A similar system is currently in place at Waipa District Council in Waikato after a trial period launched in August 2019.
Earlier this month, Waipa District Council recorded their “worst day” ever for contaminants finding 37 per cent of bins inspected were non-compliant and contained “blatant non-recyclable material”.
The system has led to 22 properties in the Waipa District Council area having their recycling collection services suspended due to repeat offending.
However, EnviroWaste is hopeful the new system in the Western Bay of Plenty district, where they will operate an inspection service, and Tauranga, will be of a major benefit.
“With a little bit of effort from everyone we can significantly reduce the waste in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty going to landfill, enhance the reuse of recyclable products and preserve our precious environment for future generations.”