Do you know exactly what types of waste you can put out for recycling? You might be unaware of just how much your council will take if the results of our recycling investigation are anything to go by.
As I researched the latest Which? investigation into recycling, I was (as something of a self-professed know-it-all on the subject) surprised to find I can recycle a far wider range of waste than I’d thought.
I’d been diligently putting out my paper, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles in my green recycling box every week.
Now it transpires that, at some indeterminate point in the past four years, Haringey Council started collecting a number of things I’d been blithely chucking in the black bin. These include drink cartons and most types of plastic packaging, like yoghurt pots and margarine tubs.
Give us a clue about recycling
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is great news and the council should be applauded for its efforts to increase recycling rates. In fact, there are now so few items that can’t be collected that our two-person-one-cat household puts less than a carrier bag’s worth of waste in the black bin every week.
My gripe, however, is that the council did virtually nothing to tell me about its vastly improved service – leaving me to find out myself from its website.
Of course, the information might have been squirreled away in the magazine it sends me every few months. But judging by the pile of magazines amassing in my communal hallway, these circulars aren’t a must-read for residents.
In any case, the contents of most of the recycling boxes on my street would suggest that few of my neighbours are aware of the full range of things that can be collected for recycling.
Councils need to communicate
I think that important changes to recycling services should be publicised more prominently. A flyer through the door or sticker on the recycling box wouldn’t be too much to ask, would it?
And a general lack of information about recycling isn’t just a problem where I live. In our survey 73% said more information about how to use their recycling service would motivate them to recycle more often.
Almost half of the councils that responded to our Freedom of Information Act request said they don’t proactively inform new residents how their new collection works. Considering many of these may have moved from an area with a very different type of recycling service, it’s not surprising there’s a problem getting information to residents.
Recycling is good for the environment and – as ‘landfill tax’ on dumping rubbish rises, meaning higher costs for councils and council tax payers – good for your wallet too.
But for recycling services to be effective, councils need to give us clear and timely information about how they work. Mine doesn’t, does yours?
Do you know what goes in your recycling bin?
Yes - my council is good at informing me (76%, 122 Votes)
No idea - I need better information (13%, 21 Votes)
Yes - but only because I've found out myself (11%, 17 Votes)
Total Voters: 160