Hundreds of homeowners across East Northamptonshire will have food for thought after their contaminated recycling bin was not emptied.
Officers from East Northamptonshire Council have been checking bins across the district over the past two months and rejected 374 out of the 2,259 they looked at.
Each rejected bin was given a red tag which informed the homeowner why their bin was not emptied, the impacts of contamination and how they can improve the quality of waste and recycling.
Food waste was found to be the worst contaminant, with 47 per cent of bins not emptied because of it. Only a small amount of food waste in a recycling bin can critically spoil a load.
If the recycling collected is contaminated above a critical level with non-recyclable items, more taxpayer funds are used to pay for the whole waste truck to be sorted.
Waste manager Charlotte Tompkins said: “The patrols are vital to our service and it shows that residents are still needing assistance in getting the right stuff in the right bin.
“This is incredibly disappointing as we regularly promote guidance on recycling, with an extensive list of recyclable items found on our website or leaflets available at our offices.
“Having the opportunity to collect food waste separately to other waste is something we encourage our residents to do and help reduce the waste that goes to landfill.”
Items that can be recycled include: paper (newspapers, magazines, catalogues, junk mail and directories), plastic packaging (food trays, margarine tubs and yoghurt pots), card/cardboard (including greetings cards), cans and tins (food, drink and pet food), plastic bottles (without lids), empty aerosol cans, glass jars and bottles, food and drink cartons (sometimes known as Tetrapaks) and clean foil.
Items that cannot go into a recycling bin include: expanded polystyrene, plastic bags, wrappers and film, food waste, toys, used tissues and kitchen roll, clothes, plant pots/trays, other glass items such as drinking glasses, windows, vases and cookware, batteries, electrical items such as toasters, hairdryers and DVD players and garden waste.
An East Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: “If you have found a red tag on your bin, please check what is inside and remove anything that is not included on the list showing what can be recycled.
“It is important that all tags are removed from bins once this has been done, or the collection crews or waste officers will assume the bin cannot be emptied.”