PEOPLE in Hinchinbrook are being urged to take more care with what they put in recycling bins – or they will be hit in the pocket.
More than 30% of material collected from the yellow-lid bins ends up being dumped because of contamination.
Dirty nappies, food scraps and other waste is being mixed with cardboard, paper, plastic bottles and cans – which results in all of it getting tossed into landfiil.
James Stewart (40), Director of Infrastructure and Utility Services at Hinchinbrook Council, said: ‘It’s money. It’s dollars. It’s going to start costing us – it’s a huge problem.
‘We are not doing enough is the simple answer. The biggest problem is contamination of the recycled kerbside bins. The stuff going in those bins is unbelievable.
‘We’ve seen loads where dirty nappies have been thrown in, food scraps, you name it and I am sure it has probably ended up in a recycled bin. It is getting so bad that entire loads have to be thrown into landfill.’
‘Our contamination rate is approximately 30%.’
‘It’s money. It’s dollars. It’s going to start costing us – it’s a huge problem,’ James Stewart (40), Director of Infrastructure and Utility Services at Hinchinbrook Council.
This week an entire truck load was turned back at Townsville and emptied into the landfill in Ingham.
A $4m ‘major project’ is underway to make the ‘final cap’ on the first pit at the Warrens Hill landfill site water-tight.
The second pit will be full in two years, after which it will need to be capped.
A third and final pit still needs to be dug.
Hinchinbrook tax payers’ rates are being used to pay for the project as there is no funding from the state or federal governments.
‘The state government has a policy target of zero waste to landfill by 2050.
‘However, this problem is sooner for Hinchinbrook because we may only have 10 years left of available space at Warrens Hill – by 2030 it will be full’ – Council chief James Stewart.
‘That’s why recycling is so important. The more we can reduce the load on our existing waste facility the better. Too much material is needlessly going into the ground.’
A monetary return of 10 cent per bottle or can is available through the container refund scheme – but many are continuing to dump them with the general waste.
‘A lot of people cannot be bothered saving up their cans and they just throw them in the bin,’ said Mr Stewart. ‘It’s sad.
‘I would say approximately 10% of the loads are containers that are eligible for a refund – people are literally throwing money in the bin.’
‘Council staff emptying the bins around town and in parks have recovered approximately 1,000 cans or bottles a week – that is $100 a week,’ James Stewart.
The council chief has championed the efforts of local Hinchinbrook schools St Teresa’s College and Ingham State High, who have launched campaigns to start separating cans and bottles from general waste.
Ingham State Primary School has been running a similar campaign for the past 12 months, which has seen the students benefit from the profits of their recycling efforts through the cash for containers scheme.
‘It’s fantastic! It is great to see the students getting stuck into recycling and earning money at the same time.’
‘That’s something I’d like to see a lot more of for sure’ – Council chief James Stewart on schools recycling bottles and cans.
‘Promoting recycling is a great message for everyone to get involved with, young and old.’
‘I think the change of mindset starts with the younger ones and hopefully the older ones take a bit of notice and do the right thing.
‘Hopefully all of the others in the area prick their ears up and think more about recycling themselves.’
For the many people who do recycle, washing out the bottles and removing lids is important.
Materials get sorted by hand at a centre in Townsville.
‘Think about it, if you were the one emptying out that bin and sorting through that material, how would you like to receive it?’ Mr Stewart said.
‘I think a lot of people are unsure of what can be recycled.
‘There is plenty of information available on council’s website.
‘If you are ever unsure if something can or cannot be recycled – put it in the red bin – rather than potentially adding to the contamination rate and putting it in the yellow bin.’
For more information about recycling, go to the Townsville City Council website.