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 listed below.
The food and garden waste collected from kerbside organics bins in Nillumbik Shire was too contaminated to be recycled into compost. In response, the council launched Bin Blitz: a bin inspection and education program that reduced the number of contaminated bins by 63% in just nine months.
A third kerbside bin was introduced to collect food and garden organic waste. Before launch, councils rolled out a behaviour change and education program, resulting in high diversion and low contamination rates.