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Recycling: Keep it topless clean and loose

Wednesday, May 3, 2017   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: waste, management, sustainability, environment

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 2nd May 2017

When you toss your plastic bottles and containers into the recycling bin - are you unintentionally doing more harm than good?

Christchurch people are great at recycling but a few common mistakes are causing issues at the city’s recycling plant.

“Unfortunately a proportion of the items put out for recycling cause issues for the recycling plant during processing," said Christchurch City Council Solid Waste Manager Ross Trotter.

“If we want to maximise the amount of material being recycled people need to remember three things when they’re putting items out for recycling – topless, clean and loose."

Mr Trotter said lids on bottles and other containers were made from a variety of materials that could contaminate the recycling so they needed to be removed and placed in the red wheelie bin.

It was important too to wash bottles and containers so they were free of any food scraps or liquid.

One of the most common causes of contamination with recycling are items containing food or liquid. “If items put out for recycling have food in them or any liquids it can contaminate other recycling such as glass and paper which then can't be recycled".

“It is also a health risk for the staff working at the recycling plant. They should not be handling rotting food or liquids of unknown origin or dealing with the stench," Mr Trotter said.

Another message the Council was trying to get out was that items put out for recycling needed to be loose, not bagged up.

“If it is in a bag it is unable to move freely along the automated Materials Recycling Facility.  When you have 25,000kg of material to recycle every hour you don’t have time to open all the bags and remove any contamination," Mr Trotter said.

“Unfortunately if items turn up at the recycling plant bundled in bags they get thrown away."

Mr Trotter said another common mistake people made was crushing plastic bottles and containers before they put them in their recycling bin. This was not necessary.

“The recycling plant recognises the different shapes, density and compounds of the material being sorted and it helps when the recycling is not crushed. When people crush bottles or containers it makes it more difficult for the plant to separate them.  We need them whole and clean."

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch