Dead pets, dirty nappies are not recyclable
Dirty work ... Bol Maler at the recycling facility's up feed. Photo: Melissa Adams
More distressing than dead dogs appearing on the conveyor belt at Hume Materials Recovery Facility are large numbers of dirty nappies.
The putrid parcels are even more unwelcome than the replica hand gun that turned up on Tuesday, giving workers a start before it was handed over to police.
Manager Richard Iles said manufactures stamped disposable nappy packaging with 'recyclable', leading people to believe they could be thrown in recycling bins.
Fast-moving ... Paul Robinson sorting at the glass station. Photo: Melissa Adams
Flushing the contents down the toilet and wrapping used nappies in newspaper and a plastic bag, and putting them in a garbage bin instead of recycling would make workers' jobs more pleasant, he said.
Instead, they had one of the smelliest jobs in the territory, working from 4.30am coinciding with the arrival of collection trucks.
Shifts vary from eight to 10 hours, and the 10 line workers are rotated from intensive to light work to share the load.
Tough work ... supervisor Greg has a drink of ginger beer, which helps settle motion sickness for those who are sorting. Photo: Melissa Adams
"It's been described as being as hard as shearing. There is more physical bending, but there are techniques to minimise the strain," Mr Iles said.
People who suffered from vertigo standing in front of the moving production line were unsuited to the work which was intensive and non-stop.
Sometimes as many as one dead dog a week , or more in summer, and rats and birds added to the challenge.
Plastic hoses and wire brought machinery to a standstill.
One of the worst materials to put in a recycling bin was a doona or blanket, because they could stop a machines for six or seven hours.
He said staff at The Canberra Hospital had been spreading the message about disposable nappies to new mothers. According to ACT Territory and Municipal Services, disposable nappies caused health risks to line workers, and could shut down production.
Mr Iles said the best way to approach recycling was to follow the guidelines on stickers issued with new bins
If a toaster or microwave came onto the production line work stopped to enable heavier models to be lifted off.
TAMS says recycling tied up in plastic bags is not opened for safety reasons and goes to landfill. Empty bags get tangled up in the machinery, jamming it and can cause production to shut down.
Old clothes and rags tangle up in the machinery, jamming it and causing shut downs in production.
Coat hangers can injure workers and jam machinery.
Animal skins or carcasses cause whole loads of recycling to be diverted to landfill and are a health risks to line workers.