Helping Aucklanders recycle right

Meet a recycling bin inspector

Last Updated : 31 Oct 2017

A new approach is helping Aucklanders get better at recycling. OurAuckland talks to Duane Albert, who is part of a team that checks recycling bins in areas where lots of contaminated waste is put out. 

Recycling bin inspector Duane Albert

“I’ve been checking recycling bins for a year now. The most common things I find are coffee cups, plastic bags, polystyrene trays and used nappies."

"I also see dangerous items like gas canisters and fireworks – I always talk to people about why these can’t go in recycling bins and why they are serious hazards for our trucks and workers at the sorting facility.”

Watch Duane in this NZ Herald video story to see how he’s helping Aucklanders understand what can and can’t be recycled.

Ian Stupple, Auckland Council’s General Manager Waste Solutions, says dangerous and incorrect items in recycling bins are processed at high expense, with a high volume of unnecessary contaminated waste going to landfill.   

“We currently send about 18,000 tonnes of incorrect recycling to landfill. That’s 13 per cent of the total recycling we collect across Auckland each year, and we want to reduce it to 5 per cent.”

“Using recycling bin inspectors to check recycling bins has proved to work overseas and also more recently in Auckland. In the last six months, our inspectors have audited more than 100,000 bins and so far just over 2200 bins have been red tagged. When we revisited areas where there were a large number of red tagged bins we noticed a marked improvement so it’s clear this approach produces results.”

Recycling bin inspectors are on the street in Auckland hot spots – how does it work?

If incorrect items are found but these are less than 10 per cent of the total volume, the recycling bin inspector will place an orange warning tag on the bin when it is emptied.

Recycling bin inspectors tag

If the recycling bin inspector finds more than 10 per cent of incorrect items (such as nappies, hazardous waste, liquid or wire), the bin is red tagged and won’t be collected. A letter explaining the reasons for non-collection is put in the resident’s mail box.

“The majority of Aucklanders are really good at recycling. But some areas need more attention as we still see incidences of serious contamination – we recently found 100 kilos of dumped windscreen rubber in a recycling bin,” says Ian Stupple.

Incorrect recycling
Bagged materials and non-recyclable items cannot be recycled and go to landfill.

How to recycle right – quick tips

  • recycle plastic, glass, metal and cardboard packaging containers from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry
  • put paper, cardboard, milk and juice cartons (eg Tetra Pak cartons) in your recycling bin
  • rinse and squash all containers – leaving the lids on
  • please don't put plastic bags into your recycling bin  they get caught in the sorting machine.

What to know more?

Always check the underside of the lid for what can and can’t go in your recycling bin.

For tricky items, use Auckland Council’s recycling search by item or category.

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