South Kesteven District Council is asking residents to take extra care in placing the right waste in the right bins to help reduce the contamination of recycled waste collected from the kerbside.
While recycling has been a success story in the district, actual recycling rates have recently dropped and the problem of contamination is causing growing concern.
In 2012/13, recycling rates for the South Kesteven district were at their highest, with 48.3 per cent of all waste being sent for re-use, recycling or composting.
Last year, this figure was 43.2 per cent. South Kesteven slid dramatically down the recycling league table of local authorities from number 88 in 2012/13 to 172 last year.
So why has this happened if the district is such a ‘success story’ when it comes to recycling?
Analysis shows that items like food and electricals are being wrongly placed in silver bins. There is also a change regarding textiles. Previously, SKDC has been able to take old clothing but now is asking residents to take it to charity shops and clothing banks instead.
Councillor Nick Craft, executive member for environment, said: “The council tax payer has to fund the sorting of waste at the materials recycling facility and if it can’t be recycled then it has to be disposed of differently and creates a much higher bill.
“Disposing of waste is a very expensive process and I’m sure customers would want to save on costs as well as having a positive impact on the environment.
“Food contamination can affect several items in a load, which then can’t be recycled. We want to get the message out to residents that food and nappies should be placed in black bins, textiles should be taken to clothing banks or charity shops and electrical goods to the district’s household waste recycling centres.
“We know most local people feel that it is important to help the environment and recycle whenever possible but by taking a little extra care we will be able to process a far higher proportion of our household waste and turn it into useful products.”
Recently, Lincolnshire County Council also handed out a warning that far too much recyclable material was being contaminated, with one in four lorry loads affected, costing authorities huge amounts in extra fees.
Coun Reg Shore, vice-chairman of the Lincolnshire Waste Partnership, said: “The majority of residents recycle really well, however, sadly, just the tiniest amount of food waste or liquid left in the bottom of a packet or bottle can contaminate the recycling load.
“Recent analysis has shown that, on average, one out of four lorry loads arriving at waste transfer stations across the county are contaminated. Between April 2015 and March 2016, the partnership collected 11,500 lorry loads equalling 72,000 tonnes of recycling. Around 2,877 lorry loads were contaminated.
“We would ask residents to put all food waste in the waste bin and not in the recycling bin, and if you think the packaging should go in the recycle bin, please wash it first. By taking these simple steps and not putting food waste in the recycling bin, the quality of recycling will improve hugely, meaning a reduction in fees and money which can be reinvested back into our services.”
l Above, we’ve included a handy cut out and keep guide as to what you can and can’t recycle.
What do you think? Do you do all you can to make sure your waste is not contaminated or is it too much trouble? E-mail your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org