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Grenade, toilet seat and disco lights among items wrongly put in bins for recycling

News release from 24/09/2019

A grenade, toilet seat and disco lights are on a list of items that people across Greater Cambridge have wrongly put into their blue bins for recycling.

At the start of national Recycle Week, Cambridge City Councils and South Cambridgeshire District Council have released a list of the strangest things found inside residents’ blue bins.

The list also includes a decorator’s paint tray and rollers (both covered in paint), metal tape measures, wellies, bricks and a games console controller. None of these things can be recycled via the blue bin and led to recycling being rejected at the Waste Management Park where recycling and waste is sorted. Recent finds that have wrongly ended-up in the recycling plant also include car brake discs, a clothes horse, a bowling ball, gas cylinders and lots of cuddly toys. All have come from the recycling wheelie bins of residents.

During Recycle Week this week, residents are being reminded that “it’s in our own hands” to decide how much to recycle and take action to protect the environment. Recycling that people across Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire put into the blue bin gets sent off to re-processors to be turned into new products, with the councils receiving valuable income for each tonne. In addition to ensuring less ends up in landfill, this provides additional income to help pay for vital frontline services.

Getting recycling right

Latest research from Recycle Now reveals that more than 60% of UK households are now recycling more than they were a year ago because of environmental concerns.

The research shows that more and more UK households are recycling plastic drinks bottles, cleaning product, toiletry and shampoo bottles, amongst other items including glass jars and bottles and tin cans. Nearly a third of these people cite environmental concerns as the main reason for doing more and others attribute it to an increased awareness of what can be recycled. Whilst the research showed an increase in recycling, it also showed that UK households sometimes incorrectly put items like nappies, wipes and clothing in the blue bin.

Putting the wrong items in your recycling can mean your blue bin doesn’t get collected, causing an inconvenience. Worse still, it could mean that an entire bin lorry load of recycling gets rejected and ends up heading for landfill.

 Here are some products that you may not have known you can recycle in your blue bin:

  • Clean tin foil. Save up small bits until you can scrunch into a tennis ball size. This keeps it all together as it passes through the recycling plant.
  • Aerosol cans. Ensure they are empty and don’t crush them. Metal like this is extremely valuable to re-processors and can be recycled endlessly.
  • Plastic bottles from toiletries and cleaning products – including bleach, shampoo, nail varnish remover, etc.
  • Cartons, e.g. Tetra Pak cartons from juice, soya milk, etc.

Here are some products that definitely shouldn’t go in your blue bin:

  • Food and liquid remains. A quick rinse or a wipe is usually enough to make your recycling clean. A tip for jars is to half fill with washing-up water, screw the lid on, shake, and empty. Any leftover chemicals or oil should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.
  • If damaged or crushed, batteries can catch alight and cause fires in the back of bin lorries or at the waste management park. Please put them in a clear bag and attach the bag to your blue bin so they can be disposed of safely
  • Clothing and textiles. Take these to a clothing bank or charity shop. Even clean worn-out clothes have value and can be recycled this way for other purposes.
  • Nappies, wipes, sanitary items, kitchen paper and tissues. These are all too dirty and low-quality to be recycled.
  • Black sacks, even if they contain recycling. Put recyclables in the blue bin loose.

Residents can find detailed guidance on what goes in which bin at on this part of our website.

Household bin collections across Greater Cambridge are carried out by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils.

Your recycling is a valuable asset

Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, Cllr Rosy Moore, said: “Recycling is always important, regardless of which week it is, but it's even better if we can reduce the amount of waste and recycling we are creating. Firstly, at the checkout thinking about what we buy, do we need it? Does it have unnecessary packaging? Can the packaging be recycled? Then, can we re-use it and if we can't, can it be passed onto someone else who will? Lastly, recycling all our waste that can be recycled either in the blue bin or at one of our many recycling points which take a wider variety of materials.

"We can also support recycling by buying products made from recycled materials. The challenges of climate change and plastic pollution seem pretty overwhelming and we can't solve it all as individuals but if we all do a bit in our daily lives then it does all add up. Buying something loose without packaging, taking a re-usable water bottle and only buying the food you know you will eat really all does help.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Cllr Bill Handley (pictured - below), said: “It really is in our own hands to recycle. It’s up to each of us to help by putting the right stuff into the right bin. We should think of the material we put into our blue bins as an asset, not rubbish, because the waste from our blue bins is sorted and then sent off to re-processors to be made into new products. The Council is paid for every tonne of suitable material and the money raised is reinvested into Council services. So, your efforts really do make a difference. Let’s make every week a Recycle Week!”

Craig Stephens, campaign manager for Recycle Now, organisers of Recycle Week, said: “This year we’ve all taken more notice of our impact on the environment, and realised that recycling is part of reducing that impact. In Greater Cambridge it’s no different – more and more of us are recycling, so the next step is to make sure we get our recycling right. So come on, Greater Cambridge, keep up the great work and let’s make our recycling better than ever before!”