How to avoid contaminating your recycling

Did you know that around 25% of all items put into recycling bins are actually rubbish that contaminates the recycling materials ? We thought it would be a good idea to highlight the problem of contamination and help people to avoid ‘wishcycling’.

Wishcycling is when we put something in the recycling bin even when we’re not sure that it can be recycled. We throw it in – in the hope that it will be recycled. But unfortunately that’s rarely the case and our wishcycled item contaminates the entire bin – which means more items going to landfill.

Contaminations means that:

  • Recycling becomes more expensive as more resources are needed to seperate contaminants
  • Sorting machinery has to stop to disentangle non-recyclables
  • The quality of recyclable byproducts decreases if they are contaminated, reducing their market value.

Top contaminants include:

  • Compostable items and bioplastics
  • Glass cookware, pyrex and ceramics
  • Sellotape
  • Tissues, wet wipes, paper napkins and cotton wool
  • Leftover food residue.

How to minimise contamination:

  • Make sure you know what can and can’t go in your recycling bin. This varies from one council to another.
  • Create a list and put it near your recycling bin so you can easily check that items are accepted
  • Tell your friends and family and ask them to spread the word
  • If you’re not sure, bin it!