City of Wanneroo looks to reduce recycling contamination

stock image.
stock image.

THE City of Wanneroo is looking at introducing a bin tagging program to tell households when they put the wrong items in bins.

After an unsuccessful application to the WA Local Government Association’s bin tagging program last year, assets director Harminder Singh said the City was discussing details of a bin tagging program which it was likely to introduce this year.

Mr Singh said recycling collections could be contaminated if recyclable material contained food or liquids that affect the quality of the recycling process.

“All items should be empty and clean,” he said.

“Nappies, medical waste and other hazardous items also affect the safety of truck drivers and sorters at the material recovery facility.

Cleanaway’s materials recovery facility. Picture: David Baylis

“Other items such as e-waste, clothing and flexible plastics also contaminate the City’s household recycling bins.

“Material will still be processed, however items that cannot otherwise be recycled will be disposed in landfill.”

Mr Singh said that meant flattened cardboard boxes and clean paper may end up being sent to landfill if people disposed of “takeaway containers in the recycling bin with curry still in it”.

“Additionally, items like electric cables and clothing can jam the sorting machinery, causing costly downtime while the jam is removed,” he said.

A recycling truck emptying in a bin in the City of Wanneroo. Picture supplied

A ratepayer contacted Community News with concerns that drivers did not check bins for contamination before emptying after taking photos of a contaminated recycling bin being emptied.

Mr Singh said drivers did not check bins individually because it was time-consuming.

“When a bin is too heavy or is visibly overflowing with contaminated material, it will not be collected,” he said.

“Where contamination is identified in a bin, the driver will leave a sticker with information about why the bin was not collected.

“Until the contamination is removed and placed in the correct bin, the recycling bin will not be collected.”

Cleanaway’s sorting facility in South Guildford. Picture: David Baylis

Mr Singh said the City collected 17,650 tonnes of material from yellow-lid recycling bins in 2017-18 and contamination levels varied, but the City did not have specific data.

“The City’s contractor Cleanaway collects data on the total contamination levels for all recyclables received at their facility from all of their clients,” he said.

Insights on new recycling rules

To help improve rates of recycling, Mr Singh said people should clean and empty recyclable items, and rinse bottles and containers to keep workers safe.

“It also lowers the risk of rotten food and drink contaminating the recycling process,” he said.

“Leave it loose – recyclables, such as bottles and jars, tied in plastic bags in recycling bins will not be recycled due to safety risks in sorting; the whole bag containing the recyclables will be sent to landfill.”

“Many items such as clothing, flexible plastics and e-waste cannot be recycled via household recycling bins, however they can be taken to dedicated drop off locations,” he said.

“Flexible plastics like bags can be recycled at the local supermarket via the REDcycle program; e-waste can be dropped off to Tamala Park Recycling Centre or Recycling Centre Balcatta to be sent to a local e-waste recycler; clothing, textiles and bric-a-brac can be donated to local charity organisations.”

Mr Singh said the waste education officer visited schools and community groups to present on a range of waste management topics, including how to sort recycling correctly.

He said in the future, the City would “encourage third party contractors to invest in recyclable processing facilities within the northern corridor” particularly within its boundaries.

What can be recycled?

Aluminium and steel cans (clean and empty)

Glass bottles and jars (clean and empty)

Plastic bottles and containers (clean and empty with lids removed)

Cardboard (flattened)

Paper (note: shredded paper, paper towels and tissues cannot be recycled)

All items should be clean and empty, and placed loose into the recycling bin.

Check the City’s online A-Z guide for more information.