Talking Trash

Talking Trash

There’s going to be a lot of trash talk in Ōtara, Papatoetoe and Manurewa in the next few months.

Published: Friday 23 July 2021

There’s going to be a lot of trash talk in Ōtara, Papatoetoe and Manurewa in the next few months.

Selected suburbs in the Manurewa and Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board areas will be used to trial efforts to reduce the amount of contamination in recycling bins.

More than 15 per cent of Auckland’s recycling is contaminated with non-recyclable items, increasing costs to Auckland Council and seeing items that could be recycled ending up in landfill.

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia saysCouncil’s contractors have identified that contamination rates in some south Auckland areas are higher than in other parts of the city.

“Staff are going to undertake a trial in selected areas to address that,” he says. “Hopefully we can improve our recycling behaviour by making a few little changes to what goes in our bins, and that will help us to help our environment.”

The trial runs until September and focusses on educating people on reducing non-recyclables, with council’s community waste team joining community partners such as Talking Trash and Pacific Vision Aotearoa.

Manurewa Local Board chair Joseph Allan says it’s a great chance for the community to take a lead and show what can be achieved by simple changes.

“Our waste people will use different strategies depending on people’s needs. That might involve engaging with a whole neighbourhood or working one-on-one with households.

“Whatever method is used, anything that cuts what we send to landfill is welcome. We can’t keep on creating mountains of rubbish. Making sure things that should be recycled don’t get rejected because they have been contaminated will help reduce that mountain.”

If education and engagement don’t work, contractors could be instructed not to collect bins from houses with repeatedly high contamination levels. But in those cases, households would get the chance to discuss behaviour changes to have their collections reinstated.

“After the trial, the most successful strategies will be identified and they might then be taken into other areas,” Autagavaia says. “Staff will report the results to the local boards after the trial and we are looking forward to showing we have taken a lead in this area.”

Non-recyclable items in recycling bins cost about $500,000 every year, and Allan says that’s a problem that’s getting worse as recyclers get more stringent about contamination.

“Our areas are among those with more contamination, but we believe we can show giving people the information they need to do the right thing will bring good results.”