Residents in Cambridgeshire are being asked to think twice about which bin they put their recycling in after plastic bags, clothes and even a toasted sandwich maker have been found in the wheelie bins that take food and garden waste.
To get the message across, a new campaign is being launched to help people understand which recycling bin items should go in and the consequences of using the wrong one.
By putting the incorrect items in a bin or not taking them to a Household Recycling Centre, some organic material which could have been turned into useful compost is being sent to landfill.
In an attempt to tackle the issue, two new videos have been issued by RECAP, the recycling organisation for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They are available at www.recap.co.uk or www.fenland.gov.uk/article/7941/Education
They mix live footage and animated characters to show what happens once the material is picked up from residents’ homes and brought to the Amey Waste Management Park in Waterbeach.
One film shows how, in just eight weeks, the food and garden waste is turned in to high-quality compost that is thoroughly tested in order to produce a safe, nutrient-rich product for local farms and gardens.
The other shows the state-of-the-art machinery that is used to sort the dry recycling from blue bins in Cambridgeshire and why it is important for residents to sort their waste properly.
Cllr Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for the environment and a Recap board member, said: “I would urge everyone to watch these new videos and think carefully about the items they put in all their bins. The cost of putting the wrong things into the wrong bin can be significant.
“We are concerned that recently a variety of the wrong things have been turning up in the ‘green waste’ – including electrical goods, clothes and most importantly corn-starch and plastics bags, which cannot be composted in our process and have to be rejected.
“Our bin men have the job of checking bins and not collecting anything that could damage the processes or equipment. But they do need your help, so please check your bins before they do.”
Cllr Roger Hickford, Chairman of RECAP, said: “We work very hard with Amey and the district councils to compost as much of your food and garden waste as possible. When the process works, we create over 23,000 thousand tonnes a year of compost which is then used on farmer’s fields for crops or by Cambridgeshire residents on their gardens. That is enough to spread compost over four football pitches every day of the year.
“The cost of putting the wrong things into wheelie bins is over £220,000 a year. So while the technology we use helps to sort the recycling you put out, we are greatly assisted by the separation which people can do at home. This means we can recycle more, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and have more money to spend on other services which councils provide.”
Tom Coleman, Operations Director at Amey, said: “It only takes eight weeks for us to turn food and garden waste into compost, but any type of plastic, even the corn starch bags, will not break down. The best way to help us is for you to wrap your food waste using newspaper as this does break down into compost quickly.
“Unfortunately, we do get quite a lot of plastic and metal items mixed in with the food and garden waste. These can damage the machinery we use to sort the waste and also unfortunately it means that we need to reject it and send it to landfill. We hate to see potentially good compost being sent to landfill because it has been contaminated.”
The Composting Facility at Waterbeach takes food and garden waste from homes and transforms it to high quality compost used by farmers and local residents. This industrial process is much faster than composting at home and produces material which meets the national standards.
Last year across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, 54 per cent of all domestic waste was recycled or composted, but there is still significant room for improvement.
The compost is available free to local residents. To find out more visit www.recap.co.uk