News | 29 June 2023
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Waste Auditor with the gift of the gab

The cat’s out of the bag – and its body was shoved into a bin. That’s one of the worst things Merv has found in a Council recycling bin in his time as a Wellington City Council Waste Auditor.

Man wearing a high vis orange jacket putting a bin clip on a wheelie bin on the side of the road.

Based at the Southern Landfill, Merv has been in his role for 12 years and is known as the man who can talk. 

“I’m what we call an auditor for recycling. I handle any complaints that come in from truck drivers who couldn’t pick up a bin or bag because it was contaminated, or complaints from people who call about why their collections weren’t picked up. 

“When that happens, I go and have a chat to them, so they know why we have left it behind.”

The Council recycles unsquashed rigid plastic grocery packagings with the recycling symbol and numbers 1, 2, or 5, tins, cans, clean paper and cardboard. Anything beyond this can contaminate a bag or bin.

Merv believes that having a face-to-face conversation about how things are recycled is often all it takes to sort out the problem.

“People aren’t often across our processes, and don’t realise that whatever is picked up by the drivers goes to a facility and then is put on a conveyor belt to be sorted by hand.

“We don’t want our people to be coming across a week-old dirty nappy and interact with it. It’s not safe for them.” 

Man wearing a high vis orange jacket standing next to a wheelie bin on the side of the road.

Along with used nappies, other common items found in recycling bags are polystyrene and glass. He says that the worst he’s found are dead animals. 

“I once found a lot of dead seagull and I’ve also found a cat. It’s not the nicest sight when you open the bin to see that.” 

While he has a large focus on educating the community, he is also keen on problem solving any issues to make life easier for people to recycle.

“For example, in Island Bay there were a whole lot of bins that were blowing over and products were going everywhere. So on collection day, my manager Tony and I went along The Parade and just supplied bin clips to every bin. These bin clips keep the lids secure and stop products from being strewn everywhere nine times out of 10! 

“We encourage people to think about what they put in their recycling, and don’t put anything that’s not recyclable in there. And use bin clips, especially as we live in windy Wellington. Two seconds will save you from the hassle of your recycling spilling out on the street, and it really helps us too. People think they're the Peter Pan, but I'm the Tinkerbell! People like me are here to chat to you and help."

Find out more about wheelie bins and bin clips on our website.