Three-strike rule for recycling offenders

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Poor recyclers in Ashburton could lose their wheelie bins in a new three-strike rule brought in by the Ashburton District Council.

Since August 1, only plastics 1, 2 and 5 are being accepted in yellow-lidded wheelie bins for recycling but some residents are contaminating it with non-recyclables and rubbish.

Council infrastructure services group manager Neil McCann said council had begun to enforce the three-strike rule, which would result in the removal of recycling bins if behaviour did not improve.

Council staff have been auditing bins ahead of collection to check compliance.

He said council was currently monitoring about 40 households where bins have been repeatedly contaminated.

“These are people who are blatantly contaminating recycling despite repeated encouragement and education. This behaviour sabotages the good work of all others who are doing the right thing.”

Mr McCann said that if an audit showed a recycling bin not being properly used, a notification letter would be left in the resident’s mailbox informing them of the auditing results.

“After a third negative audit, the council may remove the recycling bin from the property.”

Ashburton’s recycling was rejected by a Christchurch sorting facility after lockdown because of high contamination levels and it is now sent to Timaru for sorting.

Council’s rural drop-off recycling has historically been sent there, so there is a standing relationship.

Mr McCann said Timaru was prepared to keep taking Ashburton recycling while the district made good progress on reducing contamination levels across all 10 collection runs.

“Most recent weekly loads have been under the 10 per cent threshold. Some councils are still at 30-45 per cent levels of contamination so the Ashburton District Council is faring well.

“Plastics 1, 2, and 5, and no lids of any description or size, is now the standard most councils across the country are looking to achieve, including us.

“These rules will continue to apply and audits will ensure adherence to the change.”