Following on from our article around contamination in recycling, Greenwich council has implemented a scheme to try and tackle this growing issue.
Contamination, what is it and why is it an issue?
A recent WRAP report revealed that far from a nation of 'recyclers' we are in fact a nation of ‘wish cyclers’, with people still not educated on what should and shouldn't be put into their recycling bins. This lack of understanding is resulting in a huge amount of contamination, which affects the quality of the recycling and its value. Large amounts of contaminated items can even result in entire truck loads being rejected by the first sorting station, meaning “everybody’s efforts to recycle go to waste”.
Tackling the issue - The Greenwich solution
Greenwich identified the issue and decided on a strategy to deal with it. The Greenwich solution tackles the issue at source and involves the waste teams refusing to collect contaminated bins, instead placing a warning sticker on them. The scheme enacts a three strikes and you're out policy, with bins removed permanently. This impacts green topped bins for food and garden waste and blue topped bins for dry recycling. Communal flats were also warned that recycling bins would be removed and replaced with clear sacks if repeatedly contaminated.
The council added that since the new policy began, initially “over 60% of all residents who had one of their recycling bins tagged, removed the incorrect item and have not gone on to contaminate their bin again”. The amount of rejected recycling has gone down dramatically since the scheme was introduced. In December 2022 the amount of rejected recycling when first sorted has decreased from 14.5% the previous month to 3.8%.
Hopefully with these ongoing efforts the amount of recycling in the borough can be increased further and keep them on target to those outlined in its corporate plan titled 'Our Greenwich', which aims for the borough to become carbon neutral by 2030.