Poll: Do you resent your bins being checked as contamination of recyclable waste in West Norfolk increases?
Attempts to encourage people in West Norfolk to follow recycling rules have failed to generate enough reusable waste, council chiefs have admitted.
Contractors have been told to carry out additional checks on the material put into green recycling bins after the borough fell short of the amount of suitable waste it is expected to supply a county recycling facility.
The issue has been caused by contamination of material that the plant can process with items that it can’t, which often include nappies and plastic bags.
And West Norfolk Council is now expecting to lose out on financial incentives for recycling, potentially running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Ian Devereux, the authority’s cabinet member for environment, said: “It’s a significant amount and the implication is it’s forced us to look at what we do and how we do it.”
The problem has come to light following the publication of papers for the borough council’s scheduled meeting next Thursday, November 29.
Mr Devereux said: “Despite our publicity campaigns and face-to face interactions with communities on waste collection, recycling and recyclables, we have failed to achieve the required levels of contamination-free waste.
“As a consequence we encouraged our contractor to increase their checking process as they handle the green bins.
“This has highlighted a high proportion of bins with non-recyclables, particularly the use of black or white plastic bags to contain other items.
“It is important that we all follow the simple mantra of ‘Clean, Dry and Loose’ when we fill our green bins.”
Mr Devereux told the Lynn News the issue related to the material which is sent to the county-wide recycling facility at Costessey, near Norwich.
He said bags found in the bins often contained things like food waste, nappies and other hazardous materials, though other items had also been discovered, including radios.
He said the borough had fallen around five per cent short of its expected volume and the increased checks had been taking place since higher levels of contamination began to be reported in the last two to three weeks.
Mr Devereux did not specify exactly how much the council stands to lose in recycling credits as a result of the shortfall, but said the figure was likely to be in the “low” hundreds of thousands of pounds.
He has also apologised after red tags which were attached to some bins to inform residents that their contents were deemed unacceptable carried outdated recycling information.
He reported: “This error was corrected within three days, however, I apologise for any confusion this may have caused.”
The report also revealed that the council expects to complete a partnership agreement for a new waste collection arrangement today.
The authority has joined forces with the Breckland and North Norfolk district councils to draw up the contract.
The new arrangements would come into force in the borough once the existing contract ends in 2021.