Recycling is good! But how can it become bad?

Recycling is a process we should and for the most part are doing in our every day lives. It will allow us to continue the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. We are all being encourage to recycle more, whether it is by our councils who provide our waste receptacles, the packaging our goods come in or simply the media. This motivation to recycle more must be working as there has been a significant increase in kerbside recycling year on year – at first this seems like a great result, however it has also been analysed that contamination rates are also on the rise.

Contamination is the number one problem in regards to recycling, contaminated recycling could be in the form of a misplaced product (e.g non-recyclable plastic packaging). It could also include unwashed food packaging for example pasta pots, where the plastic CAN and SHOULD be recycled, only after it has been thoroughly washed first.  One incorrectly placed or dirty item could render a whole bag of perfectly good recycling ‘un-recyclable’.

Another example of recycling contamination is the misinterpretations when it comes to compostable products. Compostable coffee cups, although not made from plastic or paper are also not compostable with food waste. Though many people think they are and place them in their garden or food waste recycling – this will contaminate this wast. These types of compostable packaging need a specialist industrial composting facility.

When the wrong items get placed into the recycling bins, this causes issues during the reprocessing stage. Wrong items could include items like plastic films or greasy pizza boxes which are also often mistaken for recyclable.

Here are a few quick recycling tips to help make the perfect recycling batch and reduce the risks of contamination.

  • Plastic films and cling film type seals can NOT be recycled – these go into the general waste bins.
  • Separate your greasy pizza box, place the clean, dry lid into the paper and card recycling but the bottom greasy section should go into general waste.
  • Compostable packaging needs special treatment – contrary to popular belief, these items can cause havoc when put in a mixed recycling, food bin or general waste.
  • Tissues are NOT recyclable – these should never be placed in recycling bins.

It is vital all our recycling is clean and in the correct bins, if you are ever unsure of whether an item is recyclable or not, do your research! It is important to help keep recycling on the rise, whilst also making efforts to reduce contamination rates.