6m Recycling “Errors” Reported By Refuse Workers, Mail Online Claims

Data obtained under the freedom of information act has revealed the number of records councils gather on residents’ recycling and waste collection “errors”, the Mail Online has claimed.

The Mail Online claims that last year refuse workers made around 6.8m records on about recycling errors made by residents. It says, although some residents were told about their infractions, some were reported to councils without their knowledge.

It submitted freedom of information requests to 264 councils. It says the data it received shows:

  • councils across three-quarters of the country now offer fortnightly residual waste collections
  • refuse vehicles for 166 councils have CCTV to record collections
  • fines of up to £20,000 are being “threatened” for leaving bins out too long.

The online newspaper claims that Aylesbury Council logs around 43,000 issues a month, noting every time recycling contaminated with the wrong material and if containers are too heavy.

It says Bradford council keeps records on containers that are contaminated, overflowing, or “not placed on the boundary of a property”.

“Taxpayers are paying the handsome salaries of the bureaucrats snooping through their bins. Local authorities must ditch this punitive, nannying agenda.”

Refuse workers for Gosport Council are required to record when recycling is contaminated with nappies, animal waste, wood, metal, food and black bags, it says.

And in Derbyshire, Amber Valley Council refuse workers record almost 300,000 recycling “errors” a year, noting the address and time of each infraction.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told the Mail Online: “Taxpayers are paying the handsome salaries of the bureaucrats snooping through their bins. Local authorities must ditch this punitive, nannying agenda.”

Councils contacted for comment said the records were to aid in combatting recycling contamination, as well as increasing recycling. Councils said refuse vehicle CCTV use is to help in cases of vehicle accidents and in instances of abuse against refuse workers.

A recent report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman revealed an increase in upheld waste services complaints against councils.

Contamination

“If the councils educate the public properly and the residents thus use their bins correctly, then there should never be a problem,” commented the Recycling Association’s Simon Ellin.

“In terms of monitoring and rejecting bins; as long as the public have been trained to use their recycling and waste facilities properly, there is no excuse for the public to then cross-contaminate them, and the measures taken by councils will ultimately be justified.

“After these materials are collected from the household, they have to be separated and processed for recycling. Cross contamination is a big problem and some markets have now given notice to totally ban some materials because of contamination issues”

“The reasons for this are twofold – firstly the health and safety of the staff who have to sort the materials when they arrive at the recovery facility, and who would want to sort through recyclables contaminated with food and excrement? And secondly, the contamination of recyclables causes massive and costly problems in the marketplace.

“After these materials are collected from the household, they have to be separated and processed for recycling. Cross contamination is a big problem and some markets have now given notice to totally ban some materials because of contamination issues.

“Data shows that the quality of the materials collected for recycling is not improving and therefore we welcome measures by councils to get it right at the household level.

“Our industry has to be sustainable and this requires looking after the recycling industry today without compromising the recycling industry for future generations. Well done those councils who are taking the quality issue seriously.”

The Recycling Association’s Quality First campaign focuses on full supply chain responsibility to produce quality commodities. The general public, in partnership with local councils, have a significant part to play in this supply chain, the Association says.

China recently announced it would stop accepting imports of certain paper and plastic material due to contamination.


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