Households could have bins taken away if they repeatedly fail to recycle properly
- Credit: EDP © 2003
Households that repeatedly fail to recycle waste properly are being warned today that they could have their bins taken away.
Broadland District Council said the move would be used as a 'last resort' against individuals who were not using their bins correctly.
It comes after a monitoring process revealed an average contamination rate of 9.5pc in recycled waste in the Broadland area.
The local authority is now looking at ways to better educate people in the district about what can and cannot be recycled.
But should those measures fail, people's recycling bins could be removed in 'extreme circumstances'.
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A spokesman for the district council said: 'This would be a last resort after several attempts to communicate with the resident on how to use the grey recycling bin correctly.
'A bin would not be removed without informing and talking to the resident to try and overcome any barriers first, and would hopefully be a joint decision with the resident.
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'In the rare circumstances where this could happen, the likely scenario would be that the resident would have a refuse bin only to dispose of their waste.'
The council said it was working on a plan to determine the best method to overcome any issues regarding recycling in the district.
Until now it has sought to better educate people about the issue by sending letters to problem areas.
But future approaches could include posting leaflets and the launch of an incentive scheme.
The council spokesman stressed that it was 'highly unlikely' that bins would be removed.
The contamination data followed a four-month analysis at the Material Recycling Facility in Costessey.
Some areas in Broadland were found to have contamination levels of just 3pc, with others as high as 14pc.
The idea has been considered elsewhere in the county, with North Norfolk District Council stating that it could also be used as a last resort.
Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett, cabinet member for environmental services at North Norfolk District Council, said: 'We will always work with residents to resolve issues in relation to contamination of recycling bins. When a recycling bin contains non-recyclables like used nappies, old electrical goods or garden waste it risks contaminating a full load when placed in the back of the collection lorry. That means all the residents who have got their recycling right have wasted their energies because contaminated recycling has to go to landfill.
'If residents mix in the wrong items with their recycling our primary approach is through education, with letters or leaflets and visits to the household to explain how to use the service correctly. If issues with contamination continue, we can red-tag the bin and not collect the recycling on that occasion. That usually helps residents get it right next time.
'If all other options have been explored and we feel a resident is wilfully contaminating their recycling, we may as a very last resort consider the removal of a recycling bin.
Brian Long, leader of West Norfolk Borough Council, said: 'We understand and share other councils' concerns about rates of contamination in recycling, and temporarily removing some residents' recycling bin is ultimately, something we may have to consider.
'But we don't expect our residents to get it right without our help.'
Liberal democrat Balvinder Singh Kular, who sits on the Environmental Excellence Panel, said taking away people's bins could lead to more fly tipping.
'It would not help because there is already issues with waste being disposed onto road sides and this would escalate the issue,' he said.
'Not everyone will make the effort to take their bin down tot he tip [when it is full].'
Do you have an issue with rubbish in your area? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684