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Hundreds of homes repeatedly failing to recycle properly have been blacklisted by the Wellington City Council (WCC) from receiving the free green recycling bags.
Those affected are in the most areas of the city heavily populated by students such as Kelburn, Aro Valley, Newtown, and Mount Cook.
Many streets around the Kelburn campus have been affected, including 90 homes on the Terrace, 87 houses in Aro Street, 34 houses on Kelburn Parade, and five houses on Fairlie Terrace. These houses will no longer be receiving free green recycling bags.
The blacklisting has arisen from the mixing of recyclables and non-recyclables in the green bags, or using the green recycling bags for regular rubbish disposal.
This has resulted in it becoming a longer and more costly process for the WCC to sort and dispose rubbish and recycling.
One resident who used to live on Stoke St. in Newtown told Salient the problem was so bad that decomposing and rotting food would be left on the street for weeks. The waste then wouldn’t be collected because it wasn’t in a Council bag, and would only be disposed of when residents in neighbouring houses found the smell to become unbearable and got rid of it themselves.
Non-recyclable material should be disposed of in the yellow bags, but these are not subsidised by WCC, costing $15.00 per pack of five bags, an expense that many students often struggle with. Plastic supermarket bags can be used as a substitute and are often free, but WCC advise people to only use this as a way of disposing their rubbish if they cannot afford the bags.
Those in the blacklisted homes can still get the green recycling bags if they go to the offices on Wakefield St. in person and request them.
It was not a surprise that the student population has been heavily criticised for the mass blacklisting, as these past few months has seen an influx of new students to the city who may not be aware of the recycling policies that are in place.
When speaking of the situation, VUWSA President Jonathan Gee said “given that many student tenants are on 12 month lease agreements, it’s likely that those currently living in the blacklisted houses weren’t the ones who have not recycled properly.”
He added that VUWSA are looking into ways of raising awareness around the proper recycling procedure and identifying the causes of illegal dumping.
We don’t believe there’s been a broad education campaign around using the right bags for recycling, so it would’ve been good if this happened prior to taking the measure to blacklisting homes.
Greens at Vic co-convener, Mona Oliver, told Salient that “blacklisting houses denies them the ability to learn how to recycle properly,” and that it will “not solve the problem” for WCC. Oliver also stated that it is important for the new and recurring students at Victoria to recycle, and in a city like Wellington that promotes environmentally friendly policies, Victoria students should “lead by example,” and that hopefully more “education and support to encourage good recycling will hopefully see those households develop better recycling habits.”
The WCC have a guide on their website outlining what to and what not to recycle.