The reality of recycling contamination

September 16 2019 by Lauren Prebble QTV Editor/Producer

My thoughts on recycling would stop on the curb.

It wasn’t until I documented the journey of the glass bottle, as a video piece for QTV, that I really started to think about it. On the morning of the 27 of August, I followed the SOS trucks and recorded the glamour crane lifts and audio glass clanks from their Frankton run.

Once I got my shots, I had to be on-call for the briefed, big dump. There was a problem. “One of the trucks is pretty contaminated. I don’t know if you would want to film this”

I wondered how the driver knew. Turns out, the trucks are kitted with a camera inside the hopper, the driver gets a live feed of what comes out of the bin.

This was my only opportunity to get this, otherwise I had to wait another two weeks! After a hesitant wait, the ops manager got word of a ‘less’ contaminated load that’ll champion the day.

I wondered what it took to deem a load unworthy.

As the hopper slowly lifted up, I got the answer! Glass bottles pouring out mixed with tins, beerboxes, a towel, just general household rubbish littered throughout the load.

A worker then scans through the huge glassy knoll, pulling out unwanted contaminates with a long pick up stick. The bobcat rotates the glass pile so they can sort through the pile once again. I became overwhelmed with emotion. How could people be so negligent.

This hopper was mean to be filled with Glass bottles and Jars ONLY.
This wasn’t even the contaminated truck. The driver recorded 20 bins that ruined that load.

So now you know, our glass recycling is at the mercy of lazy recyclers.
How do we make this message clear!? Glass is uniquely sustainable; it can be used over and over again an infinite number of times! We have the O-I plant in Auckland recycling it! 130 tonnes of our districts glass has been sent up there.  

It’s no easy feat to get our glass up there but it can be done. A transit in Christchurch, traversing South to North to get to Auckland but what if it’s contaminated? We bare a hefty landfill bill. There is no room for error – 1 smashed pyrex dish and the load is condemned to landfill. My heart goes out to the staff at the recycling center. It must get depressing to see any truckloads of glass (that could be reused again) go to landfill.

I left the scene and wept again. Driving with a headache fury against our complacent human race. How can we drill this in. BLUE recycling BIN is ‘Glass bottles and jars ONLY’! Period.

Lauren Prebble QTV Editor/Producer

- Lauren Prebble QTV Editor/Producer
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    In about 10 years from now, and after wasteing about a billion dollars, someone is going to wake up and have the guts to say that this recycling carry on is a load of bullshit.....its a load of crap of the highest order.....one person can totally disrupt the whole system....the system is VERY expensive to have.....we would be better off forgetting about it, and dumping the whole lot in a huge big hole.....this idea of sending all our rubbish to China or elsewhere in the Asian continent is stupidity .....all these do gooders and greenys have no idea....they have no grip on reality....they took out 25 tons of perfectly good plastic bags, and dumped them in the tip....what was that about? This story above is proof that it will never work, so I say get rid of the idea of re-cycling....its too expensive, and it doesnt work.....

    Posted 16/09/2019 5:19pm (11 months ago)

  • Hippo Critical

    The irony is that the only reason QLDC give an actual toss about this is because that glass is sold. to O-I. That's the only reason.. otherwise like Greeny says the recycling myth kicks in - its been going to the landfill for years until ol Jimbo saw another opportunity to make some dollars

    Posted 18/09/2019 1:01pm (11 months ago)

  • Your Name Here

    Apart from what’s said above there’s also the fact that the glass ain’t actually recycled but re-used. Or at least that’s how it was till couple years ago.

    But recycling is viable if done right. The reason might not be working is because people doing it are doing it wrong and local legislators don’t really give a crap about it. Plus the population is only concerned when posting online and contamination is proof they too don’t give a damn.

    Anyway I could go on in how to ‘fix’ the current situation (fines to people who contaminate is one step - but current council is too corrupt and would twist it their way) but the main gist is: if nobody really really cares why would I..?

    Posted 21/09/2019 9:34am (11 months ago)