Melton residents who put nappies, bike wheels and dead animals in their recycling bins have been warned they are costing taxpayers in the borough thousands of pounds every year.
Huge mounds of glass, paper, plastic and other recyclable materials collected by refuse lorries are being contaminated by householders who deposit stray articles.
The upshot is that merchants then decline to buy these contaminated loads from the council and they are instead consigned to landfill.
Melton Council estimates that between 10 and 15 per cent of all materials put in recycling bins across the borough are contaminated by unsuitable items.
Raman Selvon, the council’s waste and environmental maintenance manager, said: “We’ve had a problem with this for a while now and we would just ask residents to think about what they are putting in their recycling bins.
“When someone contaiminates a load like this it costs the council thousands of pounds.”
As Mr Selvon spoke, at the council’s waste and recycling depot on Lake Terrace, he was looking up at a 25ft-high mound of recyclable materials collected just in the previous week.
The amount left in bins and extra bags over the Christmas and New Year period increases by around 25 per cent compared to other times of the year.
This would normally result in extra income for the council but that is diluted by the amount of contaminated articles which are now being routinely dropped into bins.
As we talked there were nappies, various bits of bedding and food waste poking out from the huge mound in front of us.
“Staff do try to remove items they see which are contaminants,” said Mr Selvon.
“But it can be dangerous as materials at the top of the pile regularly fall down.
“We get a lot of clothing, bedding, food and nappies which, if they can’t be removed, will mean an entire load will not be bought by merchants.
“We’ve also had bike wheels being put in recycling bins and even dead animals.”
When the bins are put out twice a month, the council’s lorries, operated by Biffa, bring all the collected loads back to Lake Terrace.
They are then transported to a depot at Walsall, in the West Midlands, where items are sorted into separate recycling materials and sold to merchants.
Sales are dependant on loads being made up of purely recyclable items and they are almost always rejected if contaminants are present.
Mr Selvon said: “Part of the problem is that the Chinese no longer want to buy recycled materials like they used to.
“The merchants are consequently getting picky and choosy over which loads they buy.
“So it is very important that residents take care over what they are putting in their recycling bins.
“It happens in a lot of residential locations in the borough but communal areas, where there are high densities of residents, are particularly bad.”
Dave Burn, recycling supervisor at the Lake Terrace tip, said: “Every day we spot contaminated loads as they are brought in.
“You will often see things like nappies, bedding and polystyrene and we do try to take items out if we can but it is difficult in such a big mound.
“It’s costing the council because it all goes to landfill if it can’t be sold.”
EXAMPLES OF CONTAMINANTS NOT TO PUT IN RECYCLING BINS IN THE MELTON BOROUGH:
Bedding, nappies, bicycles, bicycle wheels, kitchen or food waste, soil and rubble, dead animals, hazardous and clinical waste, clothing, plastic film, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, cushions and mattresses, wood, ceramics and crockery, carpets, foil-backed card, mirrors, corks, plate glass windows, car windows, paint tins, machine or engine parts, utensils or tools, wire or cable, CDs, DVDs or their cases, video or tape casettes, garden pots, Christmas lights, plastic toys, polysterene packing or beads, textiles, shoes, ropes, belts.
ITEMS WELCOME IN RECYCLING BINS:
Newspapers, magazines, telephone directories, paper, large brown cardboard boxes, egg boxes, cereal boxes, greeting cards, glass bottles and jars, steel an aluminium food and drinks cans, aerosol cans, , plastic drinks bottles, shower and bath plastic bottles, house cleaning plastic bottles, yoghurt pots, food trays, plastic or carrier bags, drinks cartons, aluminium foil.