What happens when you don't wash your recycling

05 March 2018

With recent news about recycling rates falling for over 14 million households in England, are you recycling enough of your household waste? Or even recycling properly? The UK government are hoping that by 2020 the nation will be recycling 50% of all waste, this can be achieved if everyone is more aware of the effects of recycling and how to recycle correctly. Most of the UK are unaware that you have to wash recycling products if they have any remaining food residue, which is dramatically increasing landfill and damaging our natural environment. 

A spokesperson for North London Waste Authority explains, “items that are placed in recycling bins are collected and taken to an MRF (a material recovery facility) where they are sorted and processed. Food residue is a form of contamination because food residue left on containers cannot be reliably processed. Contamination is created when the wrong materials are put into the system (e.g. nappies in the recycling bin) or when the right materials are prepared in the wrong way (e.g. food left in containers). If contamination levels are too high when a recycling load arrives at the facility, it might have to be rejected. If this is the case, the whole load is sent to be burnt for energy or to landfill.” 

The question is what will the effect be if you don't wash one metal tin and put it in your recycling waste? The answer varies from case to case but it will definitely cause issues for your local recycling centre. If there is a limited amount of food residue then it can be cleaned and sorted by a recycling expert, but if there’s a lot of contamination it costs more to be processed which consequently means it’s sent to landfill or to incinerators to be disposed of. Always check your recycling waste to see if it’s free from any leftover food if it isn't then a simple wash will suffice. 

If you’re worried about wasting extra water on washing your recycling products then not to worry, simply rinse them after you’ve done your washing up, or add to your dishwater. This ensures your household doesn't use extra water in your everyday routine, and your recycling waste is to the correct standard. 

 

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We are an experienced team of recycling specialists based in Dorset and Oxfordshire, with expertise in all areas of recycling and waste disposal ranging from cardboard recycling and End of Life Vehicle Collection, to trade waste disposal and metal recycling. For more information about our recycling services, or for further advice on how you can make a difference at home, contact our team on 01202 675564 today.  

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