BIN CHECK: Ballina Shire Council waste education officer Samala Heart is helping to educate residents about what to put in the recycle bins.
BIN CHECK: Ballina Shire Council waste education officer Samala Heart is helping to educate residents about what to put in the recycle bins.

The most bizarre items found in Ballina residents’ bins

Whats in your bin?: Ballina Shire Council waste education officer Samala Heart is helping to educate residents about what to put in the recycle bins.
Whats in your bin?: Ballina Shire Council waste education officer Samala Heart is helping to educate residents about what to put in the recycle bins.

AFTER an audit of recycling bins in Ballina Shire, waste education staff have given residents high marks but the class isn't perfect.

Ballina Shire Council in October last year launched its Lifting the Lid audit of recycling bins.

That took council's waste education officer, Samala Heart, and her team on to the streets to peek into the recycling bins of 1200 residents to check for contamination.

She said only 22 of those bins weren't collected because so much of the wrong stuff was in the bin.

The most bizarre thing found were garden lights.

But Ms Heart said those same were checked again a fortnight later and only one still hadn't passed inspection.

"Our shire in particular are wonderful recyclers," Ms Heart said.

She said the audit was an education program with residents also receiving information postcards and letters.

It came about as part of the Recycle Right campaign, launched at the end of 2018.

That followed China's refusal from 2017 to take Australia's recyclables that had a contamination of more than 0.5 per cent.

Ms Heart said China's decision led to changes in what you can put in your recycling bin.

The biggest change, Ms Heart said, was that soft plastics could no longer be recycled.

She said Ballina council's audit found the badly contaminated bins mainly had soft plastics in them.

A common mistake, the audit found, was residents placing food packaging in the recycling bin in which the container was recyclable, but the plastic film on top that sealed the product was not.

Another error was putting things like pizza boxes, takeaway food packaging, kitchen paper towels and used tissues in the yellow-lidded bin. Those items go in the organics bin.

Another no-no was putting batteries of any size in any bin.

Ms Heart said batteries caused a fire at the Ballina tip last year.

Batteries can be dropped off at the community recycling centres in the region for free.

Ms Heart admitted recycling could be confusing, and residents in any local government area should check what can go in what bin by checking out websites or phoning their council.

The bin audit will continue.