Machetes, soiled nappies and used needles wrongly placed in recycling bins in Wakefield

Machetes, soiled nappies and used needles are among the items being wrongly placed in household recycling bins in the Wakefield district.

The local council says various objects "contaminate" the waste recycling process on a daily basis, and is urging the public to put the right items in the right bins.

Batteries, which are a fire hazard, are also among the items incorrectly placed in green bins, which then have to be rooted out by staff.

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The issue was discussed at a climate change scrutiny meeting on Monday.

Wakefield Council is urging people to put the right things in the right bin.

Julie Greenwood, from Wakefield Council, said that the authority had tried to put out "positive" messages about recycling, but added: "We're still getting a lot of contamination in the recycling.

"There are things that we’re routinely taking out every single day that shouldn’t go in recycling: things like soiled nappies and batteries, which have caused a number of fires on the conveyor belt because they contain lithium.

"Cutlery, hand tools, machetes, garden shears, hypodermics that have been used unfortunately, along with bedding, pillows, duvets, electrical cables, the backs of washing machines - these are the sort of items people are putting in and we can’t recycle them.

"It’s a challenge but we’re trying to address that."

Around 45 per cent of all household waste was recycled last year.

The council has produced stickers clearly indicating what can and can't be recycled, and is asking the public to take batteries to specific collection points which can be found at libraries and shops.

Soiled nappies are supposed to be placed in the rubbish.

The local authority has also revealed plans to monitor the contents of some household bins to boost recycling rates.

Committee chair, Councillor Olivia Rowley, said people "not separating their rubbish" remained a problem, locally. Nationwide statistics suggest that as many as 20 per cent of homes don't use their recycling bins at all.

Batteries have caused fires at local waste treatment facilities, because they contain lithium.

Ms Greenwood responded: "There are unfortunately households in the district which have different pressures, like getting food on the table for the children, rather than what goes in what bin. We understand that.

"This next year we’ll be doing some doorstep enaggement in some of the more difficult to reach areas.

"We’ll be monitoring what’s in those bins and we’ll then test out different communications to find out what’s best.

"If there’s a method that proves to be more effective then we'll roll that out across the disctrict more widely."

The council has produced this graphic to help inform residents about what materials are recyclable.

Some councils can fine households for incorrectly using waste bins, though 2018 government guidance said that people who make such mistakes should not be penalised.

Ms Greenwood indicated the council would not fine people for putting the wrong things in the wrong bin, saying that such legislation was "a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

"It's about a softer form of engagement," she added.

Local Democracy Reporting Service