Bins confiscated after ‘extreme’ rule breaking

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OVERALL SUCCESS: Ongoing kerbside auditing has improved results in Ashburton saving ratepayers a $1000 additional cost of a contaminated recycling load being diverted to landfill.
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BY JONATHAN LEASK, local democracy reporter

Ashburton’s recycling habits are improving, but one rogue household has been labelled the “extreme worst end of the scale” for breaking the rules.

The household was accused of putting out multiple yellow and red bins to dump 480kg of rubbish, then acting “extremely abusive” when approached over the incident, councillors heard during a recent meeting.

Recycling audits have been carried out since 2020.

In this case, a property had been using its yellow recycling bin as a rubbish bin for two consecutive weeks.

The property also had three red bins as well as the yellow bin out for kerbside collection, councillors heard.

It was estimated they had presented around 480kgs of waste on collection day.

When approached, the resident was “extremely abusive to the audit team and collection contractor”, the councillors were told during an update on audit results.

Council infrastructure and open spaces group manager Neil McCann said the usual education approach for incorrect recycling practices was deemed to be unachievable.

Any bins presented by the property were now treated as waste by the contractor, he said.

The property’s yellow bin had been confiscated but they acquired another one, as well as the two additional red bins. The extra bins had been confiscated, McCann said.

The incident was at the “extreme worst end of the scale”.

However, McCann said ongoing kerbside auditing has improved results in Ashburton. This save ratepayers the $1000 additional cost of a contaminated recycling load being diverted to landfill.

“The observations of our audit team on the ground is that people are generally recycling well, though there are odd cases of larger non-compliance as has been highlighted.

“The biggest issue is finding rubbish in recycling bins and this is most commonly soft plastics, food, clothing and soiled nappies.”

Since auditing began in 2021, Ashburton has only had four contaminated loads.

As a comparison Christchurch City Council reported that in May it had 2% (11) of its recycling loads diverted to landfill, at a total cost of $11,000 – its best month of the year to date.

In terms of general waste, the latest figures showed that there were 1169 tonnes of waste sent to the Kate Valley landfill in April, bringing the total for the 2023/24 year to 12,595 – with about 14,800 tonnes sent in the previous year.

The council plans to hold a workshop to decide on the green waste bin size options ahead of the kerbside rollout in September 2026.

This will be included in the next waste management contract, which is due to go out for tender in September.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.