Community & Environment

More than 50% of Hamiltonians scrap food from landfill

Hamilton’s new rubbish and recycling service rolled out with a hiss and a roar on Monday this week (31 August), with most households contributing to the fight against landfill. Hamilton City Council City Waters Manager Maire Porter is delighted by how well the community has embraced the new systems.

“Our staff who’ve been out and about checking the new bins have been impressed by the effort being made by the community,” says Ms Porter. “They’ve found that most Hamiltonians are putting the right items into each bin and presenting the bins correctly on the right days.

“More than 50% of our residents have also started using the new food scraps bin – a service that’s still relatively new to New Zealand. Hamilton is one of the largest cities in the country using it.

“In the first four days, more than 51,000 kgs of food scraps were diverted from landfill and sent to Hampton Downs. That material will be turned into compost, with some of it to be reused in our parks and gardens.

“These statistics are really exciting when you compare them to Council’s 10-year goal of diverting more than 150,000 tonnes of anticipated waste from landfill,” says Ms Porter.

Why getting it right is important

With Council’s team members out on the streets noticing improvements every day, Ms Porter emphasises why it’s crucial to put the right items into the right bins.

“Putting non-recyclable items in the yellow recycling bin means the bin’s entire contents can’t be recycled due to contamination. Putting recycling items into the red rubbish bin means that these items would end up going to landfill by mistake.

“That’s in direct conflict with the main aim of the changed service, which is to help people to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste. We want to minimise waste going to landfill as much as we can,” explains Ms Porter.

However, Ms Porter says Council’s key approach to issues is to help residents make the change, rather than penalise them for early mistakes.

“If there’s an issue with your bins’ contents, you’ll receive a sticker on any uncollected bin or a flyer in your letterbox to help guide you next time, if you didn’t quite get it right. That means that if your bins were collected and you haven’t heard from us, then you’re already on your way to becoming a recycling champion.”

Adapting to the new service

Although the first week has been really positive thanks to a really engaged community, Ms Porter says there are still a few people that are adapting to the changes. She says that this is something the Council has prepared for with a series of tools to help guide the way.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into our website fightthelandfill.co.nz to make sure our residents have the latest and most up to date information and tools. Residents can also download the free mobile app Antenno for collection day reminders.

“As well, the website has an item sorter that lets you know which items go in each bin. This feature has been used more than 45,000 times. Plus there’s a collection day finder that tells you when to put which bins out each week – that’s been used 7,000 times so far.

“Council’s been incredibly active on Facebook too, placing 27 posts about the new service in August alone. We’ve also received more than 100 private messages a day this week. Our amazing customer service team has been flat out with more than 900 calls and 300 emails a day about rubbish and recycling,” says Ms Porter.

She adds that as people get up to speed with the new service, some members of the community already have taken the time to speak up in support of it, like Jessica.

“Jessica told us, ‘Thanks for the great service. We are a family of eight and have found the new system great. We’ve made adjustments to make our bins not as full, like creating a soft plastics bin from one of our old bins and a bin to collect boxes such as cereal boxes and egg cartons for the kids to use for craft at home and they take them to kindy’,” says Ms Porter.

“Another member of the community, Sue, mentioned her household has had had a smooth transition from the old way to the new.”

“One Facebook user also thanked the Council for all the mahi (work) that’s been put into the new service,” Ms Porter continues. “They told us ‘We had our collection on Monday, and while I saw a lot of wrong bins out on my street, I’m sure everyone will click on to the system in a few weeks. I think the system is great and I appreciate you will have some teething issues, just like everyone does when they try something new – but keep up the good work!’.”

For more info, check out fightthelandfill.co.nz or download the free mobile app Antenno from the App Store or Google Play for collection day reminders.

The fightthelandfill.co.nz website also has a fun game that’ll help you learn what goes where: Are you a recycling champion? Give it a go – you could win a fortnightly prize from Hamilton City Council!

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