Recycling mistakes risk making more waste
HOME owners risk “wasting their time” recycling after it emerged that nine in 10 people are making mistakes which mean their bottles, cans and paper may be going straight to landfill.
Research by the charity Wrap, which is funded by eight government bodies and departments, found a “lack of knowledge or confusion” among home owners about what can be recycled, blaming complicated rules.
A survey of more than 2,000 households found as many as 89 per cent admitted “including items in their recycling which are not recyclable”.
Wrap admitted that every year nearly 400,000 tonnes of “mixed” recycling went straight to landfill because it had been contaminated by the wrong type of recycling.
The charity has now published national guidance on what can and cannot be collected by recycling lorries.
Items which cannot be recycled are black plastic bottles, wine glasses, greetings cards with glitter, nail varnish bottles, crisp packets and window glass. However, telephone directories, envelopes with windows, egg boxes, aerosols and takeaway trays can be recycled, the guidance says.
Black plastic bottles cannot be recycled because “sorting equipment cannot detect the colour black and therefore it is not recycled”, Wrap said. The charity also found that one in 10 householders did not know “that they should not present recycling in a black sack” which means that it has to be sent to landfill. Six per cent of home owners thought they could recycle nappies
despite the fact that they can cause “whole vehicle loads of recycling to be rejected and instead sent for disposal”. It said half-full bottles might confuse the automated process by being too heavy. There were calls last night for councils to sort out materials at depots, and not require home owners to separate recycled material at home because of the complicated rules.
Clive Betts MP, the chairman of the House of Commons’ communities and local government committee, said: “It puts a burden on households that don’t have the information about what can be recycled and what can’t. It is wasting their time when the responsibility ought to be down to the councils.”
Mr Betts pointed out that in some parts of the country waste companies sort out recycling for home owners, allowing it all to be thrown into a single bin. He added: “People have not got time to ring up every time they get a package and say to the council ‘Can I recycle this or not’?
“It is an impossible situation and we have to work towards a recycling system where the council takes everything that might be recycled – plastics, tins, bottles, cardboard – all in one and then separate them out.”