Skip to main content

Recycling bin audit programme shows improvement in people’s habits

24 Jan 2023

Buller District Council’s recycling bin audit program is delivering positive results reducing recycling contamination in the district.  The data collected indicates that checking people’s recycling bins and educating residents is improving recycling behaviours.

Council’s solid waste coordinator Juliana Ruiz says “Since we started the program on 7 December 2022, we have seen the number of items that cannot be recycled going in to yellow bins reducing.

“Our contamination rate in December was 13% less than it was in November. This is very promising and shows that the programme helps people to change their habits.”

The audit programme, which was first trialled at the beginning of 2022, involves recycling bins being checked and receiving a green, yellow, or red tag based on their compliance with the district’s recycling guidelines. Each household that has their bin checked is supplied with a recycling guide that includes advice on how to improve their recycling.

Staff check bins ahead of collection to prevent bins with incorrect items being loaded onto the collection truck. This minimises contamination of other recyclable materials.

Ms Ruiz says: “The majority of people that had their recycling bins audited and who received a red or yellow tag improved their recycling effort. Of those, 64% have gone on to receive a green tag on their next collection. This shows that educating residents is effective.”

Staff are supplying residents with advice specific to their recycling mistakes when checking the bins and collect data of residents who are not showing improvement and require further education. Council’s website also contains a lot of information on what can and can’t be recycled.

Ms Ruiz says: “Educating residents and minimizing highly contaminated recycling material being mixed with recyclable material together is reducing Buller’s contamination rate. Contaminated recycling has to be dumped, which costs everyone in the long run.”

The most common recycling errors are bottle lids being left on, and cardboard such as pizza boxes being mistaken for recycling. Cardboard that has contained food such as chips or pizza is contaminated with food and therefore cannot be recycled.

Council will continue to check residents recycling bins over summer.


further information please contact:
Solid waste coordinator
Juliana Ruiz