Editorial: Residents not trying

CLAIRE ALLISON
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2013
rubbish bins
WHICH ONE? After seven years of use, some residents are stilling putting their waste in the wrong rubbish bin.

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So, seven years after the Timaru District Council introduced the three-bin recycling system, people are still struggling with it?

Nonsense.

If, after seven years of using the system, of information campaigns, leaflets and stickers, people are still putting tyres in their green bins and pigs heads in the yellow bins, they're not struggling.

They just don't care.

Perhaps they take the view that they didn't want some fancy new system anyway, that they liked mixing up their lawn clippings with their empty milk bottles, piles of newspapers and large chunks of concrete into one large all-encompassing, all-forgiving Otto bin.

The frustrating thing is that we have a fantastic system, and one that has been adopted and adapted by several other councils.

When it was first introduced, the system reduced the amount of actual rubbish put out for kerbside collection by three-quarters - from 4515 tonnes to 1306 tonnes of rubbish collected in a three-month period.

And what that means is that our landfill, the place where everything goes that can't be recycled or turned into compost, will last longer. This is a good thing, because landfills cost a lot of money, especially if you fill up the one you've got and have to try to get permission to start a new one.

And the people who will end up paying for that expensive bit of dirt to bury stuff in are the ratepayers.

It's really not that hard. Kindergarten kids know what goes in each bin, so there's no excuse for adults to plead ignorance.

And if you're secure in the knowledge that you are doing the right thing, and it's really not your problem what anyone else does, this is why you should care.

If you're separating your rubbish, but your neighbour's throwing their stuff in whichever bin's got the most space, you could be wasting your time. If a truck-load is sufficiently contaminated, then it all goes to the landfill anyway.

Council staff say the collection truck drivers use cameras to check the contents of green and yellow bins, but clearly that's far from foolproof. The photograph we ran on Friday showed a huge amount of inorganic material that had to be separated from the green waste before it could be turned into compost.

Residents making the effort to get it right could quite fairly think it's time to drop the carrot and pick up the stick. Both of which, as we know, should go in the green bin, not the yellow one.

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- The Timaru Herald

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