This week is Recycle Week, and the vast majority of Wandsworth residents who recycle properly are being thanked for their efforts.
The theme of the week organised by Recycle Now is ‘Recycling. We do. Because it matters’ and it pays tribute to all the people who recycle, as well as encouraging them recycle even more – especially plastics.
It is urging recyclers to think about recycling items from around the house as well as the kitchen, such as shampoo bottles, and to avoid putting items into clear recycling bags and orange-lidded recycling bins that really shouldn’t be there – like nappies and old clothes.
This contaminated recycling costs council tax payers money, because the council has to pay firstly to sort it and then again to dispose of it along with other general rubbish.
Will Lavell went on a tour of the Western Riverside Waste Authority recycling plant with some work colleagues and discovered a lot of his assumptions about recycling turned out to be wrong.
“One thing that interested me in particular was the process for recycling plastic waste. Separating the plastics into its various different forms was a very complicated process, but use of high-speed scanning sorted through the streams of plastic at great speed. I was surprised to hear that black plastic packaging is the hardest to recycle, as it often doesn’t get picked up by the laser scanners.
“I learnt it's important to make sure recycled waste isn’t contaminated with non-recyclable items. It makes the sorting process much more difficult, and can sometimes force them to send a whole bag of valuable recycled material to waste!"
“It’s been hard work educating everyone in my office what they can and cannot put in our recycling bins, but my top three items that do not live in the recycling bin are: Crisp Packets, thin Plastic ‘Film’ and Tissue Paper. If in doubt – keep it out!
Cabinet member for the environment, Steffi Sutters, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who goes out of their way to recycle. Now I’d urge people to go that extra mile and think hard about what does, or doesn’t go into their recycling bag or bin – especially plastics which we know do so much harm to marine life.”
The only things that should be put in recycling sacks or banks are:
- Paper and card/cardboard (excluding shredded paper)
- Glass bottles and jars
- Plastic bottles, pots tubs and trays
- Cans and tins (except aerosols, which have a tendency to explode at the plant)
- Food/drinks cartons (e.g. TetraPaks)
Food residue should be rinsed off before recycling and lids should be removed from food containers and bottles. Get full details of what can and can’t be recycled at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/recyclefromhome.
The main contaminants include general rubbish, food waste, carrier bags, shredded paper, electrical items and clothes and other textiles. Find out what to do with things you can’t recycle at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/recyclinga-z.
There will be an open day on November 17 at Smugglers Way, including tours, talks and activities. Details are still be finalised, but keep an eye on the council website or @wandbc twitter feed nearer the time for updates. In the meantime, residents and community groups interested in going on a tour can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8875 8885/9.