Up to 20% of household recycling contaminated

January 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

Figures released by DEFRA (The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) estimate that up to 20% of household recycling is contaminated and ends up in Landfill. The amount of rubbish being rejected has risen dramatically in the last five year period. The non-recyclable items at fault included textiles, the wrong types of plastic, organic matter, and actual recyclable materials that are soiled beyond use.

All of this seems to point to a lack of education, rather than will on the behalf of citizens. It’s up to councils to educate constituents says the Government but far from doing so, they seem to be adding to the problem by insisting on mixed recyclables collected in a single bag. While this may bring down the cost of collection since it passes those costs on to the re-processing sector, who are forced to re-route sub-standard material, it’s not only the UK industry which suffers; China is also forced to dump huge quantities of UK waste in landfill rather than recycle it for profit.

The solution may lie in education and a variety of bins at the kerbside for separate items. There are calls from various sectors now to improve not just the quantity of domestic recycling but the quality as well. Those involved range from Government ministers to Friends of the Earth, because we may just be running out of room for more unusable wasteland. It’s not just that food waste creates potentially explosive levels of methane in landfill sites, it’s that proper recycling conserves valuable natural resources such as metals extracted by mining.

While our councils get their act together perhaps it’s time for us to look more carefully at what we are recycling; after all this is an area where every little bit counts.

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