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Red cards have been flashed 12 times as the Dunedin City Council cracks down on attempts to recycle dead cats, stereo systems and bags of household rubbish.
Council solid waste manager Ian Featherston confirmed this week council contractors collecting the city's recycling had so far issued 12 of the cards as a final warning for inappropriate use of recycling wheelie bins.
The council operated a "three strikes and you're out" system to try to prevent recycling and rubbish being mixed together, as contamination reduced the resale value of recyclables, he said.
"We give an orange card as a first warning, then a red card for the second warning, then the third time the bin doesn't get picked up - it gets taken away."
Nobody had yet had their wheelie bin taken away, but it appeared some were "testing the system out" to see what they could get away with, he said.
"Then you get your lazy ones who can't be bothered," he said.
Contractors used a camera to monitor what was being picked up and dumped into their collection truck, and had orange and red cards on hand to distribute as needed, he said.
So far, non-recyclable stereo systems and bags of rubbish were among the offending material detected, he said.
A dead cat had also slipped through the system until discovered on the conveyor belt inside the purpose-built recycling plant at Green Island earlier this month.
Mr Featherston said that was unlikely to result in a card unless the home it came from could be identified.
However, overall contamination levels were between 2%-2.5%, which was "pretty low" but a result that could be improved, he said.
"I'd like to have zero contamination ... It keeps the cost of the service down."