ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Acting Manager of Environmental Services, Leo Jensen said Southern Downs residents were doing a good job with their recyclables and encouraged them to keep up their efforts. But with more than 2 per cent of recyclables contaminated, there's room to improve.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Acting Manager of Environmental Services, Leo Jensen said Southern Downs residents were doing a good job with their recyclables and encouraged them to keep up their efforts. But with more than 2 per cent of recyclables contaminated, there's room to improve. Marian Faa

Recycling wrong? Big Brother is watching

SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council is using cameras to crack down on residents who are disposing of recyclables incorrectly.

Acting manager of environmental services Leo Jensen said placing non-recyclables in the yellow-lid bin could contaminate the whole truck load, which would then be sent to landfill instead of being reused.

"Our contractor does monitor each and every load with cameras, taking note of the street address and location and what is being emptied from the bin," he said.

"Council has recently issued numerous letters to residents who have placed the incorrect materials in domestic recycling bins."

Mr Jensen said placing the wrong rubbish in recycling bins could also damage equipment in the recycling truck and pose a workplace health and safety issue to drivers and sorters.

About 140 tonnes of recycling is collected on the Southern Downs each month, with the large majority being mixed paper and glass.

 

WASTE BREAKDOWN: A graph showing the breakdown of recyclables in the Southern Downs.
WASTE BREAKDOWN: A graph showing the breakdown of recyclables in the Southern Downs. Southern Downs Regional Council

"In general, Southern Downs residents are doing a good job with their recyclables and we encourage people to keep up their efforts."

But Mr Jensen said there was room for improvement, with 2.1 per cent of collected recyclables contaminated.

"Make a conscious decision to place clean empty cans, bottles, ice cream cartons, newspapers in the recycling bin."

"Compost where possible, place vegetable scraps and tea leaves in your compost bin or worm farm, or bury them in your garden."

The advice comes after it was revealed that Southern Downs residents are sending rubbish to landfill that could be composted or recycled.

Fifty-five per cent of what we toss in our bins could be composted and 17 per cent could be recycled.

Mr Jensen said extending the life of landfill cells could save council and ratepayers money.

 

SUPER CELL: A new cell being constructed. Each cell costs millions to develop and has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. The current cell at the Warwick Waste Facility is nearing the end of its life.
SUPER CELL: A new cell being constructed. Each cell costs millions to develop and has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. The current cell at the Warwick Waste Facility is nearing the end of its life. Southern Downs Regional Council

"The more you can divert from going to landfill you can get a better life out of the cell which at the end of the day will save ratepayers by deferring and pushing out the costs."

Councillor for waste management Cameron Gow said each cell new costs millions to develop.

"The contract for waste collection it is the single biggest ticket that council pays for," he said.

Cr Gow said the 10-year waste management contract, worth millions, would come up for tender later this year with a review of the council's waste management strategy.

"We could potentially be cutting our waste in half," Cr Gow said.

"I would be really keen to hear the community's feedback on how we can reduce our waste footprint."