Core group rubbish with rules
More than 40 Palmerston North households will find themselves struck off the recycling route if they do not write to the council promising to use their bins appropriately.
The residents are on their third and final strike of the Palmerston North City Council's three-strikes recycling policy and have continued to flout the rules, despite attempts to educate them on what can and cannot be recycled.
Rubbish and recycling asset engineer Natasha Simmons said the council was working through how it would suspend services to those households.
The "core group" had consistently ignored attempts to educate them on what could be put in recycling bins, and continued to dump items including nappies, sanitary items, food and green waste in them, she said.
Ms Simmons said there was a possibility those households would stop recycling all together but that was preferable to contamination of the recycling stream.
The "one, two, three strikes" campaign was introduced by the council last August as a way to reduce Palmerston North's high recycling contamination rate.
The campaign involved placing stickers on recycling bins that contained contaminated items and stickers on items in the glass crates that are not accepted.
The stickers contained notifications that were elevated from a "warning" one sticker, to two, where the bin would not be emptied and the household would be asked to remove the contamination and put the bin out on the next collection day.
A third notice has the council's recycling educator contacting the resident to arrange to visit and talk through what can and can't be recycled. Since the system was introduced, the contamination rate had halved and was now sitting at 12 per cent, Ms Simmons said.
High contamination rates meant increased processing and disposal costs, thereby increasing the cost of providing the service.
"For our team there's nothing worse than trying to separate dirty nappies from milk containers, so in the end we can't recycle items that have been contaminated by the waste in the recycling bins."
Ms Simmons said that up until now, the council had taken an "advise and educate" approach, sending an educator to hundreds of homes.
"We don't want to suspend services, however we've been left with little choice.
"All they need to do is write to council stating that they will use the recycling appropriately and then the service will be reinstated."
Ms Simmons said the recycling team would keep a close eye on those homes to ensure old habits did not re-emerge.