Community education is a critical component of any kerbside collection service and can occur at any stage in delivery. A well-designed community education campaign can significantly reduce contamination and increase diversion rates. It is important that community education is conducted on an ongoing basis. Councils who invest time and resources in community education typically have higher diversion rates and lower contamination rates.
Contamination in recycling bins (commingled recycling and organics) is not always due to a lack of care or concern by householders, but is often based on a misunderstanding of what can be recycled.
Research shows that even the most committed recyclers make mistakes when determining whether a particular item is recyclable or not. In fact, committed recyclers make mistakes, like repeatedly recycling old or broken drinkware glass and crockery, more often than disengaged recyclers. Encouraging householders to place the correct items in the right bin for collection is fundamental to maximising recycling and minimising contamination.
For more information on kerbside recycling behaviours, you can read Sustainability Victoria’s report ‘Drivers and Barriers Affecting Kerbside Recycling Behaviour in Victorian Households in 2014’
Tips for success
- Investigate which materials and specific household items can be accepted at your materials recovery facility.
- Establish an agreed list of items that can and cannot be recycled.
- Make it a requirement for your contractor and/or reprocessor to regularly provide a contamination report that details a list of common contaminants.
- Perform regular kerbside bin audits to determine contamination rates and problem areas.