One in every five recycling sacks collected in Milton Keynes is too “contaminated” to actually recycle - and the biggest offender is CRISP PACKETS.
It is only since MK council changed from pink sacks to clear sacks earlier this year that the extent of the problem was revealed.
Readers had contacted the Citizen saying they had seen refuse collectors hurling recycling bags in the same compartment as black bags in their lorries.
“It is frustrating, upsetting and concerning to see residents’ hard work and efforts go literally to waste,” said one man, who was convinced Serco contractors were simply cutting corners.
But an MK Council spokesman said: “Around one in five recycling sacks collected in MK each week contain ‘contaminants’. By this we mean items that should not be in the recycling sack at all as they cannot be recycled here in MK and can spoil the other items in the bag making them unsuitable for recycling.”
Crisp packets and some sweet wrappers, due to the metallised plastic film on the inside, are the number one mistake people make in their recycling bags.
Other common culprits are dirty nappies, broken glass and textiles, all of which have to be expensively removed by hand at the city’s Materials Recycling Facility (MRF).
The council spokesman said: “We have recently changed the recycling sacks from pink to clear so that bin crews can see if there are any contaminants in the sack before it reaches the MRF. If there are, they will place the recycling sack into the black sack side of the bin lorry as it is not suitable to go to the MRF.”
“This may look as though they are putting recycling into the black sack waste but it will be because there are items in there that would have to be picked out by hand”.
This month the council also changed its policy about supplying extra recycling sacks. Instead of picking them up from outlets, residents must now order them online.
Each household is allowed up to 180 sacks - three rolls of 60 - a year. If they need more, or if they are proven to be misusing the sacks, they will be expected to pay cost price to the council.
Leader Pete Marland said: “People will be able to order up to 180 recycling sacks on-line and have them delivered to their door, hassle free.
“If people get to that limit, the next time they order MK Council will, in future, ask people to confirm they only use the sacks to recycle and residents will be given advice on how to reduce sack usage, such as squashing cans and taking the air out of plastic bottles.”
He added: “No one who uses sacks to recycle will pay a penny. People who misuse sacks, or want sacks for other purposes, will be given the option to purchase them. Our data shows average use per household in MK is around 120 sacks a year at present, including what we think is misuse.
“Recycling sacks are not free and the change is to primarily to cut down on misuse, particularly from businesses and people from outside MK.
“Hopefully the vast majority of MK residents will only see an improved service.”
What SHOULD go in the recycling sack:
Plastic bottles (washed)
Plastic food containers
Food and drink cans
Empty household aerosols
Paper and cardboard
Paper envelopes (but not padded ones)
Yoghurt pots are margarine tubs
Rigid meat trays and fruit punnets
Milk and juice cartons
What SHOULD NOT go in the recycling sack:
Food or garden waste
Some sweet wrappers
Nappies or sanitary products