Paying twice for rubbish recyclers

TAXPAYERS who already fund waste services will pick up the landfill bill for contaminated recyclable rubbish which was rejected by council waste collections last year.

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request found that a total of 2,941 bins were rejected by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Breckland Council last year, while Mid Suffolk District Council rejected 508.51 tonnes of recyclate due to contamination.

People who put incorrect items such as nappies, food waste, glass and plastic bags in their bins contaminated the rubbish which could not be recycled, incurring a landfill tax cost of £48 per tonne.

Karen Cannard, a recycling campaigner from Bury St Edmunds, said: “We are all paying for the service whether it’s recycling or rubbish collection and any waste that ends up in landfill because of contaminated bins will actually cost us money.”

Cash-strapped councils also had to dig deep for more than £56,000 to replace 2,966 bins.

Breckland Council rejected 2,524 contaminated recycling wheelie bins within 12 months and replaced 1,749 bins between April 2009 and March 2010 at a cost of £36,285. St Edmundsbury Borough Council rejected 417 contaminated bins in a six-month period and spent £17,000 on 1,077 new wheelie bins. Mid Suffolk District Council rejected 508.51 tonnes of recyclate in one year and replaced 140 bins at a cost of £3,000.

Cllr Peter Stevens, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for environment, said: “We have to encourage and educate people as much as possible to recycle.”

It is unclear what proportion of replacement bins were issued because of contamination, damage or loss.

Figures for Forest Heath District Council, which works in partnership with St Edmundsbury Borough Council on waste collection, are not included.