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Significant improvements for Christchurch's recycling

Elizabeth Robinson
recycling bin
Yellow Recycling Bin  Newsline/CCC

It's been a year since the 'Have We Bin Good' scheme was introduced, and one year on things are looking good for Christchurch's recycling.

The Christchurch City Council introduced the scheme in May last year, in a move to get the country's recycling sold overseas. 

Before the plan started, landfills were receiving around 43 percent of the city's recycling bin contents. But now that statistic has been significantly reduced to only 10 percent. 

The council's resource recovery manager, Ross Trotter, said there had been noticeable improvements in bottles and containers being rinsed and more lids being removed and disposed of in the red bin. 

Measures the council has taken to improve residents' recycling include bin checking, letterbox flyers, gold stars, bin handle tags, chalk markings, and bin removal. Details about what all of these mean can be found here

Trotter said due to Covid-19, there had been a global increase in demand for New Zealand's paper product because of collection and transportation issues worldwide, which was why clean recycling was so important. 

However, the city is still not 100 percent recyclable. Some residents continue to dispose of general rubbish in their yellow bins, causing 10 percent of April's recycling to go to landfill at a cost of $58,000. 

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Trotter said there were also a number of takeback schemes in the community to manage common items not accepted in the yellow bin. 

Much of the rubbish found in recycling bins could be taken to EcoDrop recycling centres, while soft plastics can be dropped at participating stores.

The soft plastics takeback scheme was reintroduced to the South Island in February this year, and the bins can be found in various supermarkets and malls across the city. 

Scheme manager Lyn Mayes said companies Goodman Fielder and Kilmarnock take the recycling back to Auckland to be processed at Future Post. 

"It is fantastic to bring soft plastic recycling back to Christchurch after a two-year hiatus. We are doing what we promised in 2018 when overseas markets for our materials dried up. The good news is that everything we collect now is recycled in New Zealand." 

David Benattar, chief sustainability officer at The Warehouse Group, said they were committed to operating in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way, and making recycling and waste reduction easier and more accessible for Kiwis. 

"We are prioritising our work around delivering more solutions which will make recycling plastic and hard-to-recycle waste possible for consumers whose desire to live more sustainably continues to build." 

The Warehouse had participating stores across the North Island for the past five years, and between August 2019 to July 2020 alone, almost 5 million pieces of single use soft plastic, equating to around 29 tonnes, had been collected through The Warehouse stores and diverted from landfill. 

"Council greatly appreciates the efforts of the majority of our residents and encourage using our look-up tool on our handy app to check which bin items go in," Trotter said.

The Bin Good app has had 38,800 downloads since its release in October 2020, equating to about 32 percent of all properties across Christchurch.