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Contaminated Lowestoft recycling results in loss of £51,947 after food waste, used nappies and glass bottles put in recycling bins

Contaminated recycling waste from just two rounds in Lowestoft has resulted in more than £50,000 in lost cash, shock new figures have revealed.

Data compiled for East Suffolk Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday night showed that the financial impact per year of contaminated recycling waste in the district was £51,947 in lost recycling performance payments.

But £50,308 of that was lost from the north of the district, with two Lowestoft rounds identified as the culprit.

Contaminated recyling waste in Lowestoft has cost a district more than £50,000. Stock image
Contaminated recyling waste in Lowestoft has cost a district more than £50,000. Stock image

For the 12 months to the end of March 2021, it equated to 918 tonnes of recycling waste rejected in the north of the district compared to 30 tonnes in the south.

It is understood that food waste, used nappies and glass bottles put in recycling bins are the key contaminants, although the details of which streets are in those two rounds have not been disclosed.

Waste collection chiefs have said that more work is being done to combat the problem.

Caroline Topping
Caroline Topping

Kerry Blair, head of operations, said: “Those two rounds are two rounds out of many across East Suffolk, but they contribute by far the worst contamination figures.

“Worse than that, they contribute by far the bulk of Suffolk’s contamination figures, so it’s a significant issue and there are a number of things we need to do.

“It’s not even just those two rounds, it will be individual streets within those two rounds, and in fact individual properties.

“We know in Lowestoft in particular where there are homes of multiple occupation it can be really difficult to get people to use the right recycling bin.

James Mallinder
James Mallinder

“One thing we may look at is change in collection in areas of poor compliance.”

Where crews are aware of a contaminated bin, refuse collectors can leave stickers on bins explaining what the issue is, leaflet the home or even speak to the householders.

Mr Dunlop said that additional resources would be put into the issue, including a new project planned specifically around contamination and more educating needed for individuals behind the problem.

Conservative cabinet member for the environment, James Mallinder, said it was a concern, and has triggered conversations with Lowestoft Town Council over the problem.

Leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, Caroline Topping, said that the problem needed “sorting on the doorstep rather than waiting until we get to the depot”.

The authority said it was working with FCC Environment, operators of the Lowestoft waste transfer depot, on a series of measures. That included both drivers and FCC staff checking loads from Lowestoft, separating bad loads from others to avoid further contamination, and recording the round number to pursue enforcement action if needed.

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