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Waste recovery manager Craig Goodwin with plastics that can be recycled.

A new education campaign is being launched by Ashburton District Council to get the district’s recycling back on track.

The campaign will spell out just what can and can’t be put in the yellow bins and the redefined collection service will start on August 1. New stickers will go on yellow bins and information pamphlets will be sent out.

The district’s recycling goes to EcoSort in Christchurch and changes at that plant now mean only plastics numbered 1, 2, or 5 will be accepted.

Ashburton council’s waste recovery manager Craig Goodwin said the changes had happened with very little notice and councils around Canterbury were now faced with passing on the information and re-educating the public.

The new threshold for recycling was narrower, which should make things simpler.

He said the market for low grade plastics, including plastic bags, had collapsed, and soft plastics now needed to go to landfill.

Plastics numbered 1 were typically single-use beverage bottles and some cooking oil bottles; those numbered 2 included milk bottles, cleaning and washing products; and plastics numbered 5 were items like medicine bottles, ice cream and yoghurt containers.

All lids on recycled items, regardless if they were plastic or tin, needed to be removed and thrown away because they were too small to process and often made of a different plastic.

It was also very important to clean all recycled items before putting them out, Mr Goodwin said.

High grade plastics could be recycled 10 or 11 times and economics drove recycling.

Mr Goodwin urged recyclers to read and understand the new rules around recycling, but also “to keep at it”.

Other items that can continue to go in the yellow bins as usual include flattened cardboard and egg cartons, magazines and brochures, metal tins and aluminium cans.

Glass bottles and jars, without lids, should go in the green crates.

Contaminated recycling is currently costing the district thousands of dollars a week and toys, Tupperware and other “mixed” plastics cannot be recycled. Council is monitoring contamination levels.

A five-tonne load rejected in Ashburton carried an additional cost to the ratepayer of $1065, which rose to $1606.45 if rejected in Christchurch.

All kerbside recycling was sent to landfill during lockdown and the net additional cost to the ratepayer was $56,570.31.

The threshold for sorting facilities to export is just 0.5 per cent contamination and Ashburton council needs to get it under 5 per cent by volume.

-By Mick Jensen