Re­cy­cling mis­takes risk mak­ing more waste

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Christo­pher Hope chief Po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent

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.”

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