Residents hear message about recycling bags
Nearly 99 per cent of Palmerston North residents managed the city's first plastic bag-free recycling collection without incident.
After three months' warning, the city council stopped accepting plastic bags in recycling bins two weeks ago.
Council rubbish and recycling asset engineer Natasha Simmons said in the first round of collections, just 250 people had received Strike 1 notices warning them they risked losing the service if they continued putting plastic bags in the bins.
"That's about 1 per cent of our 29,000 bins."
She said there were more notices than that issued during the fortnight for other reasons, and in many cases, the warning was issued for multiple problems, with other contaminants in the bins.
"The number of plastic bags coming in has dropped dramatically, and it's clear the message is getting through that they are no longer accepted."
The council decided to ban plastic bags because they caused problems at the sorting plant and there was no economic market for them.
Simmons said the 250 people issued with strike notices in the last two weeks was only the number who had been caught.
Bins were emptied from properties the first time a strike notice was issued, and the trucks would return on the next regular collection day.
After two months of good behaviour, the strike notice was withdrawn.
But if people did not clean up their recycling behaviour, a Strike 2 notice was issued, and the bin would not be emptied.
If the contamination was removed, the rest would be taken away on the next collection day.
A Strike 3 notice - and there were 100 of those in force last month - prompted a visit from a council staff member to explain to people how to recycle properly.
Only a handful of people so far have had their bins removed and the collection service withdrawn because of continued non-compliance.
Polystyrene trays and clothing were commonly put in bins but the council could not accept them.
Simmons said for anybody still uncertain about what could go in the recycling bin and what could not, the council had recently produced a new information flier and collection calendar.
Both were available on the council's website, from the customer service centre, or could be mailed out by call centre staff.