© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Have we wheelie bin good?

Elizabeth Robinson
Yellow recycling bins
Yellow recycling wheelie bins  CCC Facebook Page

The contents of four in every 10 recycling bins are being dumped in landfills because people are putting the wrong rubbish in them. 

According to the Christchurch City Council, 42 percent of recycling bins are going to landfill.

The council has changed regulations on what goes into the yellow recycling bin in a move to get the city's recycling sold overseas. 

The change comes as part of their initiative, 'Have We Bin Good?'; an attempt to improve the quality of Christchurch's recycling to make it more attractive to overseas buyers.

New environmental policy in China means it has banned the import of 24 different recyclable materials. Quality standards for accepted materials have increased significantly.

Soft plastics used to be a part of the items you could recycle, however they have become a major problem in Christchurch's wheelie bins as they get caught in the sorting machines causing break downs. 

Many people still mistake soft plastics for recycling; they include shopping bags, plastic film, bread packaging, pasta packaging, rice bags, frozen food bags, courier bags and more.

The city council makes it clear on its website. If you can scrunch the plastic in your hand, then it belongs in the red wheelie bin. 

To be sure of what Christchurch residents are placing into their recycling bins, there is a sticker that can be placed on the lid of the bin showing what can, and can't, go into them. However, these stickers can only be collected from the nearest library or service center. 

Facebook comments on a recent Christchurch City Council post showed that many were frustrated the stickers were not delivered to peoples homes. Some said that they should have been sent out at the same time as the pamphlets, as they both discuss the change in the contents of Christchurch's wheelie bins. 

A spokesperson from the Christchurch City Council said the stickers were expensive to print, so the decision was made that they would be available upon request by residents.

Stickers are available for free at council service centers and libraries.

There is also an option to download the Wheelie Bin app onto your device which gives you all the information you need about what rubbish goes into what bin. 

Member of the Papanui-Innes community board, Ali Jones, said recycling was important but many people would have missed the update to the bins as they threw away pamphlets in their letterbox before actually reading them. 

Jones said putting recycling in the right bin was "only one tool in the tool kit" to being a 100 percent recyclable country.  

"We have to work really hard to get people who are producing soft plastic packaging to stop or reduce it," she said. 

The Packaging Forum is doing just that, with a vision that all packaging in New Zealand will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. 

One partner of The Packaging Forum is the Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, which is dedicated to recycling soft plastics in New Zealand. 

The scheme is not currently available in the South Island as there are no processors in the area. However, the company is taking a 'phased approach' to the expansion of the program across New Zealand in order to monitor the volumes being collected. 

Spokesperson from Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, Lyn Mayes, said, "There are currently only two processing plants – in Waiuku (South Auckland/Waikato border) and in Levin. There is no current processing capacity for post consumer soft plastic packaging in the South Island. Logistically, it therefore makes sense for us to expand geographically across the North Island first." 

Screen Shot 2020 08 21 at 10.34.06 AM

Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling has over 80 partners including Countdown, The Warehouse, and Westpac. 

The wrong rubbish in the recycling is costing tax payers $788,000. Therefore, by supporting Christchurch City Council's 'Have We Bin Good' scheme, Christchurch can reduce these costs, get recycling used overseas, and maintain a clean and green New Zealand. 

Only the following items can be placed into the yellow wheelie bins once it has been cleaned and the lids have been removed: 

  • Clean, flattened cardboard and egg cartons 

  • Clean aluminium cans 

  • Clear and coloured glass bottles and jars 

  • Metal tins 

  • Plastic containers and bottles numbered 1,2 and 5

  • Aerosol Cans 

  • Paper and magazines 

SP infographics April 2020 most recycled