Strong Winds Test Recycling Skills

28 November 2011

Severe winds with gusts up to 130km/h are causing problems for residents across Wellington putting out their recycling - but wheelie bins and bags need not be blown away.

With northwest gales expected until 6.00pm today, recycling materials in wheelie bins and bags could be a hazard for motorists and an environmental risk.

The Council's Manager CitiOperations, Mike Mendonca, says wheelie bins and bags can be moved a considerable distance if placed in areas exposed to severe wind.

"This is not just a wheelie bin issue," says Mr Mendonca.

"During severe weather events, bags and wheelie bins can blow into the street causing obstructions to motorists. The wheelie bins can also damage nearby cars when pushed over by wind.

"The environmental risk comes when some wheelie bins and bags lose their contents during periods of severe wind, ultimately finding their way to the harbour through the drains and occasionally being blown into our green spaces."

Residents can help reduce the amount of recycling materials being blown away by:

  • Placing bags and wheelie bins out closer to the published collection day and time, which reduces the time exposed to severe weather.
  • Make sure wheelie bins are stable, level and not overly exposed to the prevailing wind.
  • If a residential area is simply too exposed to severe winds, Wellingtonians can contact the Council's call centre on (04) 499 4444 and ask to be swapped from a wheelie bin to the annual supply of 52 (free of charge) recycling bags - bags increase the chance the recyclables will be contained if they are blown across the street.

The Met Service offers an email subscription service for Severe Weather Warnings, which provides timely updates on the potential for Wellingtonians' recyclables to be blown about the streets.

"Ultimately there are times when the wind exposure could be so great that it would be better not to place the recyclables out for collection as the risk to both motorists and the environment is  simply not worth it," Mr Mendonca says.