Move to bins sets off better recycling
Palmerston North residents are consistently cleaning up their act when deciding what to put in their recycling bins.
City council rubbish and recycling asset engineer Natasha Simmons said particularly since the ban on plastic bags began at the beginning of July, the level of contamination had dropped markedly.
She said since the council had stepped up its education and enforcement about a year ago, the difference at the materials recovery facility at Awapuni was "absolutely amazing".
"In terms of the quality of the product coming into the plant, there is definitely an improvement.
"The smell is different, as a result of less contamination, and the guys on the sort line are happier because they don't have to pull out unpleasant items."
The drop in plastic bag quantities, evident when the change in policy was announced in March, had been repeated in July when the council started enforcing the ban by issuing strike notices if people put the wrong things in the bins.
Simmons said it had taken time for some people to change habits that pre-dated the recycling bins, when recycling was collected in plastic bags.
The generous size of the bins and the increase in the range of items that could be accepted had also encouraged some people to use it for anything they thought could possibly be re-used, even though it could not be managed at the plant.
"It really is all about communication and education to help people to get it right."
The plastic bags were banned because there was no economic market for them, and they also caused problems at the plant, with some blowing away on windy days, and others getting snagged in the machinery.