Rotting food sours recycling effort
Donna Peterson was pounding the streets of Te Anau yesterday, sniffing every recycling bin for the smell of rotting food.
"It's really obvious if it's in there because you get a very strong smell," she said.
Mrs Peterson, a senior waste officer at WasteNet Southland, is pushing a campaign to help educate Southlanders about what can - and what most definitely can not - be put out in their yellow-lidded bins for collection on recycling day.
Rotting food, with its striking pong, is one of the most noticeable contraband items found in recycling bins.
Yesterday, the WasteNet team inspected 307 bins in Te Anau, checking for banned items such as clothing, computer monitors and, of course, food scraps.
Only 12 bins, or 4 per cent of those out for collection, were pulled off the street because they contained too many forbidden items.
Although she did not touch anything in the bins, she had found some disgusting stuff during her checks.
"There was dog [excrement] in one last week in Riverton. That was pretty gross. There was one in Te Anau today that really stunk - that was rotting food."
There was a simple rule for remembering what could be collected by recycling, which was sorted by workers by hand, she said.
"If you don't want to touch it again, don't put it in your yellow recycling bin."
Mrs Peterson said, on the whole, Te Anau residents were pretty good with their recycling and they knew how to clean their aluminium cans. "The majority of them are doing really well and we want to keep them recycling."
One of the most dangerous things put in recycling bins seemed harmless, but could potentially cause massive problems.
Clothing did not stink like rotting food, but could get caught in the machinery used to sort recycling, she said.
"It can actually cause a fire so it's really a serious danger."
Recycling trucks also had two cameras installed in them to check for banned items while they were emptying the bins.
WasteNet would be continuing its bin inspections around Southland communities to help educate the region about good recycling practices, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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