Cleanaway and the City of Canterbury enjoy a successful working partnership that spans a great number of Cleanaway’s core waste management services; garbage, recycling and green waste, as well as booked clean-ups and the provision of a Resource Recovery Officer.
It was identified that a higher than average amount of recycling contamination was occurring in the City of Canterbury’s multi-unit dwellings (MUDs). These sites traditionally pose recycling challenges due to the high volume of waste being created in such a small area. In this instance it was being exacerbated by a lack of education of what needs to go where in the large communal bins, as well as a language barrier between residents and cleaning staff.
When recycling bins are contaminated by items that shouldn’t be in there, it makes the job of recovering valuable recyclables unnecessarily difficult and sometimes impossible. So to help lift the resource recovery rates in Canterbury’s MUDs, a proactive, innovative approach was needed.
We engaged all the relevant MUD stakeholders and formulated a plan. The first step was to install signage featuring pictorial representations of recyclable and non-recyclable products. Each site’s managers and cleaners were educated and given the responsibility of assisting in continual education of the residents, and regulating the use of the resources. We also held workshops to provide the local community with first-hand recycling knowledge.
Contamination rates soon dropped below 5% in areas where the program was implemented. Loose plastic bins and polystyrene collection cages had only 1% contamination. Continual education and monitoring will help ensure that low contamination rates and high resource recovery rates are maintained as we all work towards a sustainable future.