Like so many residents I have not lived in the village all my life. I moved here from Chesterfield and when I arrived I was bemused by the lack of recycling options that South Kesteven District Council(SKDC) and Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) offered. I was used to separating glass and paper collections ( we did some of the separations for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Councils) so putting all recycling in one box seemed so odd. And paying for a green waste collection was not heard of, but changes in regulations allowed for this.
Before Chesterfield, I've lived in Gateshead, Corby and Peterborough but the majority of my fifty-plus years have been spent in SKDC including (25 years in Stamford where I grew up) so I'm used to their ways.
Jump forward to the morning of 14 January 2019, it was late morning and I was going to take the dog for a walk, leaving by the back gate, I first went to bring in the grey bin, but it was not empty. Why? Was the access road blocked by bad parking and a quick check proved this not to be the case? The refuse collection team could be heard in the streets around us. Off I went on to Great Close by the shop. We could clearly hear the refuse truck but some bins looked like they had been missed! Oh, they must have been later putting them out, but it was mid-morning, so that was not the case.
Turning onto Templars Way, there was more of the same. Bins with Grey Tags added saying the wrong things were in the bags and bins. One said tins are not recyclable, I did not delve too deeply but in this case, soup and pet food cans are recyclable ( the magnet recycling symbol on the label says it is recyclable), another said food in bags ( fair enough it's not allowed, other contained nappies again not recyclable. ) then one grey label said Plastic not recyclable. but the items that were visible were recyclable the labels said so.
Well, as the refuse team were up ahead, I thought I'd have a chat to see if I could find out what was going on. The upshot of that conversation was that people who had not had their refuse collected had already had a letter informing them that they were not recycling correctly and what they should be recycling and if continued they would not have their waste collected.
SKDC's figures showed that 34% of grey bin waste collected was not recyclable. ( this is high as it should be nearer 5-10% if not less).
I also pointed out that when taking the dog out that the refuse teams always seem to leave the bins on the footpath rather than the edge of the property. I was assured that this did not happen. I then pointed out all the bins that had been collected and that were just left in the middle of the footpath. Silence and a quick shuffling of bins and it looked tidier. Having been reassured I continued to walk the dog and returned home.
As I returned the refuse team were at my bin... and there was an issue. As it happened there was a small bin liner that should have been in the black bin, I suspect in the dark it had been put in the wrong bin. I removed said errant bag but they were going to not empty in it until I pointed out that it was no longer non-compliant. So the bin was emptied and they went on their merry way.
On reflection, there was still a little niggle I had not received a letter but they were not going to empty my bin. This was something that raised alarm bells. So why was so much not suitable for recycling? The obvious thing is a human error ( I, myself was guilty) we all do it.
And Now Plastics
Plastic is always an issue when it comes to recycling. There are 7 different categories of plastic resin and not all can be recycled. See this list below.
So what types of plastic can be recycled by SKDC? Well from reading the list that SKDC provided (see recycling-helper). So a quick email to SKDC garnered this reply:
To whom it may concern, Regarding your recent enquiry about which type of plastics are recycled, we currently recycle all of plastics 1 and 2.
Web Monitoring & Social Media Officer Communications (6498) South Kesteven District Council
So for the last couple of days, I've been using this classification to further refine the what plastics are put in the recycling for the next collection and so far it has been enlightening.
Firstly Not too many years ago all plastics seemed to have a with a number inside it to denote the type of plastic used however these days we see the labels on the left and rather than telling you what the product is made from it tell you that it may or may not be recycled in your area and in SKDC that means mostly not.
Is this helpful? Personally, I'm not sure, because you have to hunt to find the information for every product. If the packaging supplier changes then so may the plastics used and you have to look all over again.
The On-Pack Recycling Labels (OPRL) are usually found on the product label. Some say to remove the label and recycle it separately from the packaging and right there comes a problem cause now we have packaging without any labelling so how can we, SKDC or it agents, now tell what it is and whether it can be recycled?
So it would seem finding an easy way to recycle is difficult. We want to recycle but we don't have the correct information to do it correctly without significant research.
How can we do this better?
Do SKDC and LCC need to come and give us more information maybe at a Parish Council meeting?
Do households have enough bins of the right type?
Please, leave comments, and your thoughts. Get in touch using the comments form below. Let's see what we can achieve.