Mayor Andy Foster says there are two reasons for the halt to collections – both based on health and safety.
“First, Wellington City Council’s contractors, like most other employers, have a limited staff roster and so we must ensure they focus first and foremost on collecting rubbish – which is an essential public health service.
“Second, our recycling operation involves a high degree of hand sorting of recyclable products, both when going into the trucks (for glass) and at the Oji plant in Seaview. Workers there manually sort recyclables along a series of conveyor belts.
“Given we understand the Covid-19 virus can remain active for up to three days on some surfaces like plastic, metal and glass, workers are facing too great a risk.
“Different councils run different systems. Some appear to be collecting recycling separate to the rubbish collection, but are nevertheless still landfilling it. In normal conditions our separate recycling processes result in the lowest possible level of contamination, and therefore the highest level of good usable recyclable material. However the Covid-19 threat would make it irresponsible to continue when we move to alert level 4 tonight.
“This will be very disappointing for most of us who are avid recyclers, but while alert level 4 continues, we cannot keep the operation going. That leaves the choices of either putting your recycling into your yellow rubbish bags or private waste collection wheelie-bins or, if you don’t want your recyclables to be landfilled, then wash them thoroughly as you always should and safely stockpile them until the recycling service resumes.”
Further important points:
• The weekly rubbish collection service (rubbish collected in official yellow Wellington City Council bags) is continuing as normal.
• The Southern Landfill is closed to the general public.
• Private-sector wheelie-bin rubbish collections will continue as normal.
• Wellington City Council yellow rubbish bags are available at supermarkets – there is no shortage of stock and bags are being delivered to supermarkets within 48 hours of them being ordered.
• Purchasing, orders and deliveries of recycling bags, wheelie bins and wheelie bin clips, and green crates have ceased for the time-being.