Making it easier to do the right thing with recycling

Sam Battman is woking inside and outside the Palmerston North City Council building to make recycling easier for people.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Sam Battman is woking inside and outside the Palmerston North City Council building to make recycling easier for people.

UNDER THE RADAR: It is unusual to catch Sam Battman without a bin and a hi-vis vest.

A science graduate and former secondary school teacher, she has been working at the Palmerston North City Council since October 2016 as City Networks behaviour change and education co-ordinator.

Or as she puts it, she gets paid to save the world, by helping people to do the right thing with their rubbish and recycling.

"I truly believe one action does make a difference, and if I can gather enough people together, we can create positive change."

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Battman said her job title was long because education alone was not enough to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

She believed 95 per cent of people wanted to do the right thing, but in practice, they made mistakes, and her role was to break down the barriers to getting it right.

The most common mistake people made with their wheelie bins was actually "over-recycling".

There was a tendency to assume anything that came with a "please recycle" message, and anything that technically could be used again, was fit for the recycling wheelie bins and glass crates.

It was not necessarily so, and what could be accepted varied from city to city.

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Unwanted clothes could do another round, but not through the Awapuni materials recycling facility.

And not all glass is the same. Drinking glasses, for example, do not belong in the bin with the bottles.

To help sort it out, Battman has designed the latest bin and crate-shaped pamphlets that have been distributed to every household.

"I encourage people to check. Some people think they are doing a really good job, but it does change over time."

Another focus was events, making it easier for people to recycle when they were out and about, as well as at home.

The council has just launched the Guru's guide to what goes where on its website, with an alphabetical list of household items and information on what to do with them when they are no longer wanted.

Samples of what goes where:

Drinking glasses: A charity shopElectrical goods: Ferguson St recycling centreDeodorant cans: Recycling binWaxed cardboard cartons: Rubbish bag

 - Stuff

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