Why some items can't be recycled

While recycling is a great way for you to help the planet, it is important not to put the wrong materials in your clear recycling bag or mixed recycling bank. Putting the wrong materials into your recycling bag or mixed recycling bank can contaminate the whole lot and mean it will be incinerated as EfW (Energy from Waste) instead of being recycled.

Contaminated recycling also costs council tax payers money, because the Council has to pay seven times as much for a contaminated load of recycling as it does for a clean load.  In addition, if the contamination spreads throughout the whole load then absolutely nothing can be recycled.  What a waste!

Certain materials are not collected for recycling because the sorting plant used by the Council is not set up to deal with these materials and/or the reprocessing facilities (to physically turn the old materials into new ones) do not exist locally.

  • Black bags - anything in black bags can’t be recycled for the simple reason that the collectors can’t see what it is in the bag and we can’t risk losing a whole truck load of recyclables because of contamination.
  • Shredded paper - shredded paper cannot be processed at the sorting plant and damages the sorting equipment.
  • Food waste - The Council offers a limited food waste collection service for properties in the north and the south of the borough. If you are one of the households taking part in the new service, please visit our food waste recycling page. Alternatively, most food waste can easily be composted at home. Please see Home composting.
  • Mixed plastics including polystrene - markets for plastics other than bottles, pots, tubs and trays are very limited.
  • Nappies (soiled or unsoiled) - cannot be processed at the sorting plant and soiled nappies contaminate other items, rendering them unrecyclable.
  • Textiles - cannot be processed at the sorting plant and damages the sorting equipment. Please see Textile recycling.
  • Aerosol cans - can no longer be processed at the sorting plant. When the waste is compressed into bales the canisters, if still pressurised, can explode. These explosions can harm staff, and are a fire risk. For more infromation please visit the Western Riverside Waste Authority website.

For more information about why certain items cannot be recycled, how materials are recycled and useful tips on how you can improve your recycling, see recycling-guide.org.uk