8 August 2019

Council bans plastic bags to cut recycling contamination

Vale of Glamorgan council has asked residents not to present recycling in plastic bags after it emerged that some residents had been using them to conceal items such as soiled nappies, food waste and cat litter, writes Lucy Lewin.

The authority currently provides weekly commingled collections for materials including cardboard, paper, glass bottles and jars, food and drink cans and plastics (including film) using boxes or bags from the kerbside. Currently, the commingled recycling is sent to a materials recycling facility (MRF) in Leicester operated by Casepak.

The Vale of Glamorgan is in South Wales

In September 2018 the council introduced restrictions on the amount of black bag waste disposed of per household, with collections limited to two bags per fortnight.

Although the council maintains that the area is among the best in Wales for recycling, with a recycling rate of close to 64%, a growing number of residents have been contaminating recycling loads with non-recyclable items, concealed in bags, it said. This has resulted in loads being rejected at the MRF.

Contamination

According to the council, up to a third of its recyclable waste was being lost to contamination.

To combat the issue, a policy being introduced this month (August) will mean that recycling will only be collected if placed in council-issue bags or boxes. Bagged material presented at the kerbside will not be collected for recycling.

Extra supplies of the reusable bags and boxes for recycling are to be made available free of charge to residents to provide extra recycling capacity if it is needed.

Commenting on the measure, Lis Burnett, deputy leader of the Vale of Glamorgan council, said: “Vale residents have made a tremendous effort to achieve such a high rate of recycling but unfortunately a minority are ignoring the guidelines and it’s causing a major problem. Urgent action is needed and we are delighted at the immediate uptake of the changes by many residents.

“Single-use plastic is also a significant threat to our planet, particularly our oceans, and as residents of a coastal county we understand the seriousness of that damage.

“These changes will also help reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste produced.”

Vale of Glamorgan recently introduced a bag-splitting policy at its two Household Waste Recycling Centres to increase recycling rates at the facilities, in partnership with the contractor FCC Environment (see letsrecycle.com story).

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