Lizzie Dennis knows only too well the high cost involved when residents do not use their recycling bins properly.
As a Mornington Peninsula Shire Recycling Champion, she has learned almost everything there is to know about the recycling process and is horrified when she hears what some people have put in their blue-lidded recycling bins.
“I’ve heard that disposable nappies, smashed crockery and even broken electrical items have been put into recycling bins,” she said.
“People don’t always realise that just one misused recycling bin can contaminate a whole truck and then the whole load has to go into landfill.”
“That completely cancels out the efforts of their neighbours who have done the right thing.”
The Somers resident says she understands why people sometimes put the wrong thing in their recycling bins.
“Life can be busy and sometimes people just don’t pay attention or are confused about what can be recycled and what can’t.
“But this is really important for our children, the earth and everyone. We need to show our children that we are willing to do everything in our power to protect their future.”
Mornington Peninsula Mayor Sam Heard said the recycling crisis last year had lead some residents to believe that all of the Shire’s recycling now goes to landfill.
“That could not be further from the truth,” he said.
“The Shire immediately engaged another contractor and only one day’s worth of recycling had to be landfilled. We now send our household recycling to the Polytrade Materials Recovery Facility in Dandenong.
“However a truckload of recyclables that has been contaminated by rubbish or non-recyclable material costs the Shire twice as much to dispose of.
“The cost to the Shire mounts up when people don’t do the right thing,” he said. “Ultimately, that cost is borne by our ratepayers.
“And the environmental cost of having to send a contaminated load of recyclables to landfill is huge. Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down and they release toxic chemicals.”
“it is so wasteful and unnecessary. There is no extra effort involved in putting something in the correct bin.”
He urged all residents to familiarise themselves with how to use their bins correctly. This includes rinsing out containers, separating lids from containers and not putting plastic bags or other soft plastics into the recycling bin.
The Shire is proactively inspecting residential recycling bins. When bins are inspected, a tag will be left on the handle of the bin. Residents who are recycling right will go into a monthly draw to win a $50 gift voucher.