Next step in getting residents to recycle gets underway

Recycling load contaminated by food

Festering food and dirty nappies are just some of the reasons our recycling crews have seen their loads rejected at the recycling centre forcing the whole load to be incinerated.

Driving up recycling rates and cutting contamination like that shown in the pictures has been behind Canterbury City Council’s recent Let’s Get Recycling Sorted campaign which ramps up from today (Monday).

Crews will be lifting the lid on recycling bins – red and blue – to see if they can spot what is known as contamination – items ending up in the wrong bin.

If they spot contamination, they will not empty the bin but leave some information behind in the form of a hanger to explain why.

Once the resident has sorted the contamination, that bin will be emptied at the next scheduled collection. It will not count as a missed bin and will not be able to be reported as such.

Bin hanger attached to a red bin

Cllr Mel Dawkins, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “Recycling as much waste as possible has never been more important and is the one thing we can all do to help protect the planet’s resources, reduce our use of raw materials and start to tackle the climate crisis that is happening all around us.”

Rejecting contaminated bins comes after an extensive campaign designed to help residents understand what waste goes where which has included:

  • three different leaflets to every household in the past two years
  • advertising in local newspapers, parish magazines and on social media
  • writing directly to properties in areas of the district where contamination is at its worst
  • stickers on bins explaining what is allowed and what isn’t
  • discounted offers for people who do not have the right bins or containers

Canenco crews have also had extensive training on how to spot contamination.

Cllr Charlotte Cornell, Cabinet Member for Heritage, Open Space, Waste and Recycling, said: “Recycling has always been the right thing to do.

“Our rates have been low when compared to our neighbouring councils and to the national average for several years now.

“They have all been rejecting contaminated bins for some time.

“Our biggest issue is paper and card finding its way into the blue bin but also food waste too.

“As a mum in a very, very busy household I know everyone wants to recycle properly not least to protect the planet for future generations but it can be confusing. We saw that during the industrial action we encountered last year.

“So our publicity campaign will continue – the hangers we put on bins are not there to shame you but to give you more information and tips on what to do next time around.

“We are all working hard on this together so we’ll take a common-sense approach but this is an issue we really need to get on top of.”

Recycling load contaminated by dirty nappies
A recycling load collected by Canenco that had to be incinerated because it was contaminated with items like nappies and food waste

As part of the campaign, the answers to frequently asked questions, like why should I separate my recycling if bin crews put it all into the back of the same lorry, have been put on the council’s website.

Cllr Cornell said: “There is the rare occasion when crews get it wrong but our recycling trucks are ‘split body’, which means that recycling is separated into two different sides.

“Our crews have had lots of training and Canenco is just as serious about driving up recycling rates as I am.”

Visit our website for information on what type of waste goes into each bin.

Visit Kent County Council’s website for information on where your waste goes after it is collected.

Published: 15 January 2024

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