New Zealand has introduced a shiny new scheme to help punters think more carefully about recycling. The plan? Gold star stickers. Gold stickers on bins. This is so painfully on-brand, even for our Kiwi friends.

Christchurch City Council officially introduced the scheme this week, and it is quite literally what it sounds like.

If you recycle correctly, someone from the council will whack a big gold star on your wheelie bin. It even says, “Thanks for bin great!” on it.

Classic New Zealand.

But how do the council know if people are recycling correctly? Enter the compliance team, otherwise known as the – wait for it – ‘plastic patrol’. These guys scour the streets looking for good (and bad) bins.

If you recycle incorrectly (bad) more than three times, the council will send you a warning letter. Do it again, and the council will full-on confiscate your bin.

New Zealand doesn’t fuck around, tell ya what.

According to New Zealand’s 1News246 bins have already been confiscated by the council after residents dumped the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin. But the majority of people are doing the right thing.

Ross Trotter, resource recovery manager at Christchurch City Council, told 1News that coronavirus lockdowns had led to the council becoming inundated with contaminated recycling.

All sorts of things were being thrown into recycling bins, like literal leather shoes. Not good.

While some locals have voiced their doubts over whether or not confiscating a bin will encourage better recycling, others have praised the gold star method. Who wouldn’t want a gold star, anyway? Gold stars rule.

“It’s amazing the number of people that come to us and say ‘how do I get one of those stickers’,” Trotter told The Guardian.

He added that the council ended up giving gold stars to 56 residents who were on a final warning because they started using their bins properly.

“That’s probably the best result we could hope for,” he said.

Christchurch City Council first tested the scheme earlier this year in February after a random spot-check in the community found nearly nine out of 10 people don’t recycle correctly.

Image: Sesame Street