RECYCLABLES placed in the wrong bins added up to an enormous cost of more than £700,000 last year, the Advertiser can reveal.
Misplaced waste in the black and green recycling containers meant a bill of £303,417 for RMBC in 2020/21.
This cross-contamination of glass, paper and plastics sent for recycling represented an increase of 73 per cent on the year before.
The jump was tied to the pandemic, as residents spent more time at home and therefore produced more domestic waste.
And Rotherham Council estimated that the cost of cross-contamination in the pink-lid bins meant another £400,000 of lost revenue.
“It’s an increasing problem,” said Cllr Dominic Beck, cabinet member for the environment.
“There’s a big cost to the council, and therefore to the residents of Rotherham, because of cross-contamination. This is money that we can’t spend on other services.
“Putting the correct items in the correct bin is perhaps one of the easiest steps we can take to protect our planet, and Rotherham recycling collections let us recycle a wider range of items from home than many other areas.”
The contents of Rotherham’s recycling bins are turned into new glass, plastic, aluminium and paper products — but this needs to be pure to be used safely in factories.
The more incorrectly placed waste, the more time and effort is needed for RMBC’s recycling partners to sort the material for sale to manufacturers.
For the year ending March, 3,863 of the 16,627 tonnes of recycling placed in black bins were incorrect, incurring a £207,218 cost. This was up from £129,547 the year before.
Eighty-six per cent of the 9,414 tonnes that went in green bins was correct — but the rest still meant a £96,199 bill, which was more than double that of 2019/20.
An estimated £400,000 of potential income was also lost due to recyclable materials being put into the pink bins, based on RMBC’s samples of the waste collected.
Cllr Beck said: “It’s important that people understand more about this and educate themselves around what can and can’t be put in these bins.
“This is something where people taking a second to think, and making little changes, can save a lot of money and make a big difference.
“The council is committed to making the best use of natural and financial resources, and we’re grateful that so many people make the effort to recycle their household waste correctly.
“I urge everyone to check the information on their bin calendar, or on our website, to make sure that as much of our waste as possible gets recycled efficiently.”
Tips for efficient recycling:
Black bin (glass, plastic, aluminium and Tetrapaks)
* Keep to containers — most things you can put in are packaging of some kind, such as cans and bottles, yoghurt pots, meat trays and Tetrapak cartons. Things like shower curtains, small electrical appliances, and kitchenware cannot be recycled this way.
* Wash it and squash it — giving containers a rinse to remove food and other contamination makes recycling more efficient and flattening means more space in the bin.
Green bin (paper and card)
* Clean stuff only — sticky or greasy paper and card cannot be recycled, so greasy pizza boxes and sticky paper bags need to go into general waste.
* No nappies.
* Keep cartons out — drinks cartons such as Tetrapaks go in the black bin because of their non-paper linings.