Residents encouraged to rinse recycled bottles and plastics
To gain an insight into how people approach recycling reporter Mike Bain worked on a recycling run as part of our On The Job series
Spending time on the collection truck will change your approach to how you fill your recycling bin in the future.
Contracted by the Waipa District Council, Smart Services pick up around 35 tonnes of recyclables each day.
In order to understand what is involved in kerbside collection, I acted as a runner for one of the team called Baz emptying blue recycling bins in Leamington.
Baz, a former forklift driver, told me he loves his job as he feels he is doing something worthwhile.
Normally he works solo driving his dual controlled truck with the open door allowing him to exit onto the kerbside, empty bins and move on.
Not me, I was the runner ad Baz described me as looking like a barking dog in a hi-vis vest chasing a truck down the street.
Actually, I was yelling, "wait for me!"
By the time we had finished our collection on one side of the street Baz told me I stank.
I wasn't surprised as I'd copped the spray from the contents of a leftover can of alcohol as I sorted the bin.
Further down the street, I added coffee dregs to my hi-vis vest after squeezing a lidded coffee cup, and had my hands smeared in what I had hoped was peanut butter.
"It's like this every day," Baz said.
Collectors like Baz approach each recycling bin with caution, scanning each bin looking for anything dangerous lying in wait like broken glass and sharp tin lids.
"The worst was some old meat trays which had been left and the bin was crawling with maggots," he said.
Baz recommends all plastics be rinsed as it makes the job on the kerb so much easier.
Smart Services area manager Murray Bain is responsible for the company's contractors in the Waikato.
He explained the importance of having plastics emptied and rinsed.
"The reason is contamination, and if you think of a milk bottle, this travels through various stages towards recycling and eventually all are compressed into a bale", he said.
"You can imagine the smell of sour milk oozing from the bale, and the bacteria remain's with the recycling.
"Only 10 per cent of what we collect is rinsed. Alcohol cans are an issue as well.
"People habits vary but some smokers will use a beer can and put their cigarette butts into the can and then throw them into the recycling bin."
And if you have ever wondered what happens to all your recycling once it's sorted.
Paper and glass are recycled in Auckland, cardboard is sent to Kinleith and plastics head offshore.
Bain has some good news for households in the Waipa as the company rolls out a replacement programme for the old bins which have been affected by UV.
"Some of these are broken or brittle, and we will replace them at no charge.
"If any one wants extra bins they are available from your local council for $22.50 each."