What are the five things that go in the Green Recycling bin? Take a moment to answer the question and read on to see if you are right.
I hope you have heard of The Great Waste. Winchester City Council chose it as its corporate campaign for 2015/16 and partnered WinACC on a project to reduce waste and increase recycling in the district. They have run a number of interesting events over the year designed to extend the life of our possessions, increase recycling and reduce contamination.
We won’t know until April how effective it has been but even just walking down my street on a recycling collection day, I see recycle bins with incorrect items in them. This is a consequence of Local Authorities around the country recycling different things making it confusing for people that move to different areas.
Recycling in Hampshire dates back to the 1980s when the reduction in land fill use was urgent. They analysed what was in our black bins and created a recycling process that collected: tins and cans; aerosols; paper; card and plastic bottles (no other plastic). How many did you get? All the other waste went for incineration and energy recovery. Since then, other than garden waste, no other waste streams were added.
So what are the contaminants and what happens to them? The main contaminant in our green bins is plastic containers (meat trays, yogurt pots, margarine tubs, ice cream tubs etc). We only recycle one type of plastic which is used in drink bottles. Even though other plastic items may have the recycling symbol on them, we can’t recycle them in Hampshire. The bottle top is the wrong plastic too and should be put in the black bin!
Plastic bags are another problem, particularly when full of recycling. The sorting process starts with pickers manually taking out unwanted items and if they come across a bag it is removed without opening it and sent for incineration. They used to open them until they found some unsavoury items and in one case a snake!
Residents in the St Pauls ward are part of the bin collection round with the highest contamination rates in the district. We could do better and perhaps we need to do a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall style street spot check to raise awareness. Any volunteers?
The Winchester district is above average in terms of recycling in Hampshire with more than 35% being recycled but this has largely stagnated since 2007 when slightly more was recycled. We are well below the best recycler South Oxfordshire at 67% but they collect other materials in their recycling bin. I guess this is the only way Winchester will improve rates significantly so contact your local councillor and express your views. Until then we can still improve and I hope to report later in the year that The Great Waste has made a difference.