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Our Environment: Issue 16 Spring 1998

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Kerbside Recycling A Big Hit With City Residents

Glass, plastic containers, newspapers and aluminium cans are pouring in to the Parkhouse Road Transfer Station recycling site from households all over Christchurch.

Since 1 July all householders, except those in the central business district, have been able to leave commonly used domestic items at their gate in Christchurch City Council's new kerbside recycling scheme.

The volume of recyclables soared to about 188 tonnes per week when the last of the three sectors was included in the scheme. Bottles and cans comprised almost half the total.

Recycled and sorted materials are being processed and sent to various local, national and international markets sourced by the Recovered Materials Foundation. For example glass is being sent to a new glass crushing plant for reuse as glass powder in a number of different industrial applications while many wine bottles go to local wineries.

"The response on the whole has been absolutely terrific," says kerbside contracts spokesman Peter Falconer. However, introducing a large scale recycling scheme to cater for the needs of 320,000 people city wide has not all been plain sailing. "We've had a few teething troubles to start with, mainly because some collection times and routes have changed, and of course some keen folk have been stockpiling items in anticipation of the kerbside collection," he says. One crate found in Halswell recently had recyclables stacked to a height of almost two metres!

Not surprisingly, due to the higher than anticipated participation rate, new contractor Onyx has been under some pressure to get through the recycling collection before mid afternoon. Collection times and methods are being fine tuned, particularly on steeper hill lanes.

Peter Falconer says kerbside recycling has been a real learning curve for all three participants - the City Council, RMF and Onyx - in the recycling partnership. "To ensure all 120,000 crates are safely delivered and every resident satisfied with the service is quite a task," he admits.

With the Bottle Lake landfill under increasing pressure over the last decade, the Waste Management Unit has been seeking solutions to the City's steadily growing waste disposal problem.

Kerbside recycling had been successful in other New Zealand cities and after extensive research and intensive trialing of the service among a small but representative group of 20,000 residents for two years in the early 1990s, it was time to stop talking about kerbside recycling and actually do it !

Feedback has already been very positive, even from elderly residents often considered more resistant to change. According to Peter Falconer, most of the older residents who phoned in congratulated the Council on its efforts. Most appreciate that recycling makes their refuse bags last longer.

Julie Eyles
Waste Management Unit

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