The cost of poor recycling has been brought into sharp relief by Suffolk County Council, which has reported losses of Â£550,000 a year due to people putting recycling in the wrong bins. The cabinet member’s report came to this estimate by multiplying the tonnage of material rejected from Suffolk’s MRF due to contamination by the disposal cost.
A recent survey by the British Science Association found that, although awareness of the importance of recycling is rising, there remains a lot of confusion about the specifics. For instance, 35 per cent of participants said they believe kitchen roll is recyclable and and 44 per cent said the same for hand soap pump dispenser lids, which have to be removed and put in residual waste. Even more respondents were unaware that common items like tin foil and empty aerosol cans could be recycled.
Confusion about the specifics of recycling contributes to levels of contamination meaning MRFs are having to reject more and more loads. In 2016, a BBC Freedom of Information request found that reject rates had increased in England by 84 per cent over four years from 2011/12.
Improving the quality of recycling starts with providing clear advice and information to people at home. Rob Cole, manager of the Suffolk Waste Partnership, commented: “We are trying to educate people and make sure they understand what goes whereâ¦ Recycling is a cheaper option than putting [waste] in the bin – disposing of waste is expensive. It’s better for the environment, better for taxpayers and better for residents.”