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Bin Audits & Tagging

A recycling bin with a bin tag

Bin tagging education program

2024’s bin tagging program kicks off in February.  We’ll be visiting areas within the Townsites of Northam, Bakers Hill & Wundowie.

The Shire of Northam works with the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) to provide bin tagging education to randomly selected households.

The bin tagging program is new to Northam.  It involves a quick look inside kerbside waste and recycling bins and then attaching a tag to bin handles to provide on-the-spot feedback for the householder.

Many Perth Local Government areas have undertaken bin tagging programs. The program is proven to substantially improve household recycling and waste management performance.  Experience shows that the improvements stick which highlights the effectiveness of giving individual feedback to households.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bin tagging? 

  • Bin tagging is a State Government-funded education program delivered by Local Government on a regular basis.
  • Bin tagging is an education tool to provide residents with direct individualised feedback on the contents of their bin – to help them reduce their waste and recycle right.
  • Educators lift the lid of your bin while it is on the kerbside waiting to be collected and assess the immediately visible contents to see whether there is any contamination
  • Bins are given ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ face tags based on the presence of visible contamination in the bins. The tags include what is and isn’t accepted in the bin.
  • Bin tagging is just a quick look in the bin, Educators visit around 100 bins per hour, and only look at what is immediately visible.  They do not rummage or tip out the contents.

Which bins are being tagged?

  • Bins in the Townsites of Northam, Bakers Hill & Wundowie have been selected for the 2024 program.

What happens if there is contamination in my bin?

  • When the wrong items are in the bins, educators leave a sad face tag. Only when there is repeated severe contamination in a bin are bins taped shut and residents are asked to remove the contamination before the bin can be emptied.

What information is on the tags? (see images below for further information)

  • The bin tags have been tested and standardised in order to promote consistent waste education messages across local government areas.
  • There are different tags for each bin type, and they detail what is and isn’t accepted in the bin.

Why is the program being undertaken?

  • There is much confusion about what goes in which bin, bin tagging clarifies any misconceptions or confusion residents may have about the bin system, while also offering positive reinforcement to households who are sorting their waste correctly.
  • Experience shows that contamination decreases on repeat visits and only a handful of properties have bins that are severely contaminated. Reducing contamination in bins reduces waste service costs.

Why is recycling contamination an issue?

  • It can mean that the recyclables may go to landfill as they are no longer of good quality.
  • Recycling collected from the kerbside bin is sorted by a combination of people and machinery which cannot remove all contaminants.
  • Recycling processors have increasingly stringent standards for acceptance of material. Decreasing contamination in the bin decreases the cost to residents of their waste services.

Is bin tagging an invasion of privacy? 

  • No, once your bin is on the verge, it is Local Government property. The Council has authorised the educators to look in the bin.  If you have concerns about specific things, put them in bags/envelopes or rip them up.
  • Educators tag approximately 100 bins per hour to gain a general overview of how the household is sorting their waste.

How do I know who the educators are?

  • Educators are staff members and will be wearing a high-visibility vest.

Will there be any fines?

  • No, this program is purely for educational purposes.

Will anyone be named and shamed?

  • No. The educators will not have access to the names of residents and data will only be reported at a Council level.

      Why can’t I bag my recyclables?

      • Recyclables that are put in plastic bags in the recycling bin don’t get recycled – the recycling sorting facilities don’t open or empty the bags – instead they get sent to landfill.

      What are soft plastics and why can’t they be put in my recycling bin?

      • Soft plastics are scrunchable plastics often used for packaging foods.
      • As of 2018, soft plastics are no longer accepted in kerbside recycling bins. Please put soft plastics into your general waste / red lidded bin.

      I still have questions. Who do I contact?

      • Contact the Shire of Northam Waste Management Team on (08) 9622 6100 or email [email protected].