Contamination Campaign

Don’t let your recycling go to waste!

Starting from 2 September 2019 we are starting an anti-contamination campaign to try and improve the quality of Ashford’s recycling.

Unfortunately, during May and June this year we had four loads of recycling rejected at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where the recycling is sent to be separated and sorted. This meant the whole load (including good recycling) was sent to an energy from waste site instead, to be burnt for electricity. This was because there were unacceptable levels of incorrect items, such as black sacks, food and nappies/sanitary waste. If residents put these items in their recycling bins, it can have serious consequences down the line.

We currently have a recycling rate of 56% and this is because the majority of our residents are putting in great efforts for the environment and doing the right thing. These efforts can be ruined by a small few who put the wrong items in their bins. The Biffa crews do lift the bin lid on each recycling bin to check its contents but unfortunately sometimes residents put the contamination further down the bin so it can’t always be seen.

To tackle these rejected recycling loads and increasing contamination rates we are carrying out a sticker campaign where any bin that crews or council officers come across containing black sacks, food or nappies/sanitary waste will not be emptied and a sticker will be left on the bin showing the resident what the incorrect items are. This will be taking place every day during recycling weeks and it will involve areas throughout the whole borough.



How do I know if my bin is contaminated?+

Contamination occurs when the incorrect items are disposed of in the recycling bin. Our collection crew or council officers will place a black and yellow sticker on your bin (pictured above) indicating that it was not collected because it contained an incorrect material. The crew will then log the contaminated bin on their in-cab system and officers will make a record and take a photo.

What should I do with my contaminated bin?+

Contamination must be removed and disposed of correctly. Either put the items into the correct bin or dispose of the contaminated contents of your bin at the household recycling centre at Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate on Brunswick Road.

Any food can be put in your black and orange food caddy. Black sacks of general waste and nappies/sanitary waste need to go in your grey refuse bin.

If we have stickered your bin we will not return to empty it, even once the contaminants have been removed. Please present your bin on the next recycling collection day and it will be emptied if all contaminants have been removed. If you have additional recycling you can put this by your bin in a clear sack or cardboard box and we will take this too.

How do I know what contaminated my bin?+

On the sticker left on your bin there should be item(s) ticked or marked so you can see what the issue was. You can then make sure this is removed before your next collection.

In the future, please refer to our recycling page and our A-Z of waste page to see what can and cannot go in your recycling bin.

What classifies as contamination?+

There are several things that cannot go in your recycling bin. The main offenders are:

• Black sacks
• Food
• Nappies/sanitary waste
• Polystyrene
• Textiles/clothing
• Electrical items
• Soft plastics/plastic film e.g. carrier bags, bread bags and cling film

Will you take more rubbish the following week when it's my refuse collection?+

If you have a contaminated recycling bin, you will more than likely need to place these incorrect items in your refuse bin. It there’s a lot of contamination, this may result in too much waste to fit in your grey bin.

However, as per our policy, we will not take any side waste or additional waste on your refuse collection. If you find yourself with too much rubbish for your bin, it will be your responsibility to take it to the household recycling centre or wait until the next collection. If you’re recycling as much as you can then excess refuse waste should not be a problem.

Why is contamination a problem?+

The recycling that is collected from your property is sent to an MRF for sorting before being baled and transported to be reprocessed and made into new products. If the recycling we collect is very poor quality, the whole truck load could be sent to the energy to waste plant, which has associated costs and has a bigger impact on the environment.

High levels of contamination can result in slower processing times for recycling to be sorted; less recycling being available for reprocessing; lower quality material available for reprocessing; and damage to the sorting machinery. It can also cost authorities money as they are penalised for diverting the recycling to a less sustainable disposal method.

Also, any recycling that is lost and disposed of due to contamination is valuable resources lost, which then won't be put back into circulation as part of a circular economy. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.