After investigating, Liberal Democrat councillors have confirmed that
- The contractors who empty the bins are supposed look and decide whether on-street recycling bins are 'contaminated' by non-recyclable waste; and
- Contaminated waste goes to Beddington Lane and is burned, whereas non-contaminated recycling is sent to the Garth Road Recycling Centre.
Whilst seeking to confirm the processes, Cllr Anthony Fairclough was told:
"Uncontaminated recyclable waste should go to Garth Road and move onward to be recycled.
Other litter bin ‘landfill’ waste is sent to [Beddington Lane] plant. ...
It is worth bearing in mind that the litter bin waste in total amounts to circa 3% of waste."
He sought details of exactly how and when it was determined that recycling was uncontaminated:
"Many thanks for your correspondence and for sharing your concerns and observations regarding our ‘On Street Recycling’ litter bins.
One of the key challenges in recycling this material is the quality of the material along with the increasing issue of contamination which prevents this material from being directly recycled.
The waste collected from our on street recycling bins is segregated by the collections crews. The general waste is delivered into the Beddington energy from waste facility and thermally treated. The recycling material is bulked and transported for further processing. An assessment of the load is undertaken by the processor and if the analysis indicates a contamination level above 5% the load is rejected.
Independent analysis has suggested that this waste stream is contaminated by as much as 80% ..."
Separately, Cllr Jenifer Gould received an email stating:
"We ask Veolia's street cleansing crews to visually inspect the contents of recycling litter bins when they are emptied. They then make a judgement as to whether contamination levels are low enough for the load to be taken for additional sorting, or whether contamination is so high that the only option is to treat it as residual waste at the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility.
Despite the challenges they present, we feel that the benefit of reinforcing the behaviour associated with recycling and encouraging members of our community to think about what it is they are throwing away, justifies retaining the street recycling bins."