Almost 5,000 tonnes of waste wrongly put in recycling bins in district last year

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for environment, James Mallinder

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for environment, James Mallinder - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Thousands of tonnes of waste wrongly placed in recycling bins were disposed of in east Suffolk last year at an estimated cost of over £400,000 to the taxpayer.

Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show East Suffolk Council had to dispose of 4,812 tonnes of waste wrongly placed in recycling bins in 2020-21.

The figure was an 86pc increase from the 12 months previously, and the largest since records began in 2014-15.

Bin collections in the Waveney area had been delayed due to the adverse weather. Picture: Nick Butch

Thousands of tonnes of recycling waste were contaminated in 2020-21 in east Suffolk - Credit: Nick Butcher

Recycling charity Wrap estimates it costs £93 per tonne to dispose of wrongly recycled waste.

In east Suffolk, that would be a cost of £447,516 to the taxpayer.

Councillor James Mallinder, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We all understand that our climate concerns need action now, not tomorrow, and one of the areas we can all contribute positively is how we deal with waste.

“East Suffolk has some of the easiest processes in the UK. Along with informative webpages, residents can do their bit and help east Suffolk continue to be environmental leaders in Suffolk.

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“It’s essential that we all play our part in in reducing carbon emissions and cutting down on our waste by making sure we put the correct items in our recycling bins.

“There was an increase in contamination of recycled waste and clearly still more we needed to do to ensure we’re recycling the right items.

"That’s why, in November, our partners at East Suffolk Norse began carrying out spot checks and leaving stickers explaining why bins found containing non-recyclable items had not been emptied.

“We also know that confusion can cause contamination.

"Last January, the Suffolk Waste Partnership launched the Together We Can Get Our Recycling Right campaign, with a leaflet sent to all households, explaining what can easily be recycled at home, plus tips on how to recycle other items not accepted in home recycling bins.”

Breckland councillors have raised concerns about Serco bin staff

Breckland councillors have raised concerns about Serco bin staff - Credit: IAN BURT

In the three-and-a-half months before East Suffolk Norse began their spot checks and sticker programme in mid-November, the council has 645 tonnes rejected due to contamination.

Yet figures up to January 25, the latest available, show only 31 tonnes were rejected in the following two-and-a-half months.

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council added: "By reducing contamination, we are reducing processing costs for rejected recycling, and therefore cost to the taxpayers."

For more information about what can and cannot be recycled, go to www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk.