close
close

Waste company throwing kerbside recycling in with rubbish looks overseas for workers

Waste company throwing kerbside recycling in with rubbish looks overseas for workers

Overseas recruits have been called in to help fill gaps in a labour shortage which has led to recycling and rubbish being chucked into the same rubbish truck and taken to landfill.

The Marlborough District Council has its kerbside recycling and rubbish collected through a waste contractor, who, at times, has struggled to get enough staff to do the collections.

Envirohub Marlborough has expressed its “concern and disappointment” with the situation, and the “potential knock-on effect this may have on public trust and compliance with the recycling system”.

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Dr Alec McNeil estimated about 10% of Marlborough’s kerbside recycling had been sent to landfill since November, or about 120 to 150 tonnes.

Rubbish and recycling is chucked into the same truck in Blenheim on Monday last week.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

Rubbish and recycling is chucked into the same truck in Blenheim on Monday last week.

READ MORE:
* Changes to Marlborough wheelie bin and waste service proposal sought
* Could crate ‘liners’ solve Marlborough’s recycling riddle come windy season?
* Marlborough waste boss ready to talk in order to tackle dirty rubbish dumpers

McNeil said it was not a “quick fix”.

“We’re not happy with the situation either, but we’re trying to work our way through it and remedy it, the contractor continues to try and solve these employment challenges,” he said.

“There are step-in rights, there are contract remedies … and they can be put into action at a time if you feel that’s appropriate, but there’s then a practical reality of who would be that replacement contractor who can do the work.”

He said the type of collection fleet needed was not available from any other contractor locally.

See also  Moeen Ali’s return makes England stronger – Graeme Swann

“That type of collection fleet is not as prevalent as it was 10 to 15 years ago. Most people have shifted across to wheelie bins.

“You can’t readily find a service provider. You could find someone to get up and running for the next service plan, but that’s not the issue.”

The Marlborough District Council had plans to roll out wheelie bins from July 2024. The current contractor was not successful in getting that contract.

Under the new wheelie bin service, rubbish and recycling would be collected on different weeks.

About 10% of recycling has gone to landfill in Blenheim since November, according to the council.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

About 10% of recycling has gone to landfill in Blenheim since November, according to the council.

To deliver the full service across Marlborough, the contractor needed 12 staff for four trucks, two for recycling, and two for waste.

The contractor also had the contract for Blenheim’s resource centre, so staff could sometimes be pulled from there to help with collection.

“If that doesn’t work, and we’re still short, then the next priority is to ensure they still clear the streets so that we won’t end up with stuff not collected,” McNeil said.

In April, the council put out a press release which warned of the issue.

“In terms of frequency, it happens on an ongoing basis, but it doesn’t happen every single day. It might be a certain area of the route, or a small section,” McNeil said.

“It just depends how severe the labour shortage is.”

Marlborough solid waste manager Dr Alec McNeil.

Stuff

Marlborough solid waste manager Dr Alec McNeil.

McNeil said the entire sector struggled with recruitment.

See also  How the BBC's MasterChef has become a wonderfully reassuring British institution – Stephen Jardine

“In the interim the contractors and the waste industry are looking for recruits from overseas, that’s drivers and other semi-skilled labour, and that’s not a quick fix. It can be done and some of the rules have changed to allow that to happen.”

He understood the contractor was in the process of getting at least three workers from overseas.

He thought it was fair to say it was the type of work that did not appeal to most people.

The contractor can sometimes pull workers from the reuse centre to help fill labour gaps.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

The contractor can sometimes pull workers from the reuse centre to help fill labour gaps.

Waikawa resident Mike Underwood thought the amount of recycling going to landfill was more than 10%.

“I mean, if they’re admitting 10%, that’s something,” Underwood said.

He said in the last seven weeks, his rubbish and recycling had been put into the same bin five times.

“We’re paying to have the recycling done through the rates, and then there’s a new system coming in very shortly with bins that we can’t opt out of, are they going to be doing the same with that? They need to be improving their service.”

He said the wider issue was it was not good for the planet.

“We spend a little bit of time sorting the rubbish, making sure it’s in the right bins, making sure all the jars and tins are clean and stuff like that, only to have it chucked in the rubbish.

“You multiply that by 10,000 people, that’s a lot of blooming effort for nothing.”

Ailie Suzuki, general manager of Envirohub Marlborough, said as an organisation that worked within the “waste minimisation and zero-waste field”, they worked “tirelessly” towards reducing or eliminating waste in the community from going to landfill.

See also  Maidstone dad Tony Smith denied parole after abusing Tony Hudgell as a baby

“To see our communities’ recycling efforts wasted is extremely disappointing … This lack of communication takes away the opportunity for residents to make an informed choice on how to dispose of their recyclables.

“Many would choose to take their recycling directly to the recycling facilities or withhold their recycling temporarily, if they were properly informed.”

  • June 25, 2023