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  • Writer's pictureEllen Worrell

#Write 52 week 31: On getting recycling right

Yesterday was recycling day here in our little corner of Northamptonshire. And like most weeks, I was saddened and alarmed to see quite how many brown/blue* recycling bins are filled with utterly non-recyclable rubbish. And don't even get me started on black bin day – we tend to only put ours out every 6 weeks or so, but many local residents seem to fill their non-recyclable bin faster than I can say "Bob's your uncle". While I understand many household have little ones in nappies, you can't tell me that what's being put in these bins couldn't be recycled or repurposed rather than being buried in a hole in the ground. But anyway, that's a whole other kettle of fish – let's get back to recycling.

On our morning dog walk yesterday – and without intentionally lifting lids because that's just plain creepy – Izzy and I spotted no end of plastic carrier bags in recycling bins, not to mention strips of carpet, cable ties, plastic cable ducts, wood and crisp packets to name but a few. I often wonder what makes people put these non-recyclable items into their household recycling bins but perhaps there's a lack of understanding of what happens to our rubbish once it's been taken away?

You see, if there's one bin that's got the wrong kind of rubbish in it, it contaminates the entire truckload and in the case of recycling, the entire load gets sent to landfill instead. So for the households who are actually recycling as they should, their hard work is undone in one fell swoop. Now I'm not saying wood and plastic cable ducts aren't recyclable, they're just not recyclable with our household waste. These more unusual things need to be taken to your local recycling centre, which for us is about 1.5 miles down the road. And where the main container (such as plastic fruit punnets) is recyclable, the non-recyclable film and/or protective bubble wrap that are also on these containers must be removed before the main container goes to be recycled.

So my call to action this week doesn't involve any kind of investment except a little time – please check your local council's website to find out what you can and can't recycle from home. Every council is different (such as bottle tops removed or still on the bottles), and changes are introduced as our recycling systems improve. Also remember to wash and dry any items before putting them out for recycling.

Here are a few links to local councils around us, for local readers:

(*delete as appropriate)

Image from Corby Borough Council

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