The disposal of dirty nappies, plastic, food and ordinary rubbish in blue recycling bins is costing Derry City and Strabane District Council thousands of pounds per year and much more needs to be done to tackle the issue, according to the local authority's waste services officer Nicola McCool.
Ms. McCool said despite improving recycling rates in some parts of the city it's still a major issue in others.
“Blue bin contamination has become a serious problem.
“When our blue bin contents are tipped out at the recycling facility, you can see how nappies, plastic bags, food waste and general rubbish are contaminating the entire contents - which has the knock-on effect of creating extra costs for general waste disposal.
“I would therefore urge householders to be aware of what they put in their blue ‘dry recycling’ bins – as contamination is significantly increasing the costs to Council.
“Recycling more and recycling right is one of the easiest ways we can save ratepayers money – but we also need every household to play their part.
“Items that can be put in the blue ‘dry recycling’ bins are glass, paper, food and drink cans, plastic bottles, cardboard and food and drink cartons.
“However, items that cannot be recycled – but are often put in the blue bins – include nappies, black bin bags and general food waste, which contaminate the recyclable materials that it comes into contact with.
“Recycling is a win-win situation for all – and we really appreciate that the majority of householders are committed to getting it right. I would also like to stress that most residents have been excellent recyclers."
Incredibly, despite the long-standing presence of blue bins in back yards and gardens throughout the district, some people are not utilising them to the extent that they should be.
“Indeed, some areas are doing particularly well – with the most recent reported figures for January to March 2017 having a recycling rate of 39.3 per cent. However, other areas are not performing as well.
“It is important to recognise that more can be done to reduce waste disposal costs. We want to remind people that with their co-operation and by making a few simple changes to how they dispose of their waste, Council can significantly reduce the amount of it going to landfill," said Ms. McCool.
And it's not just about the environment.
More recycling means fewer rates hikes and more monies available for community centres, play parks, festivals and so on.
“This in turn helps to keep our rates down. Any savings can also be invested in the provision of key services throughout the city and district.
“We hope that householders understand that it benefits us all to recycle the right waste in the right bin.
“If people are unsure about what goes into the blue bins they can visit our website or contact Council if they need further help.”
Advice for householders who are unsure about what goes in the blue bin can find out more details by visitingwww.derrystrabane.com/service/wasterecycling/bluebin or by contacting the Council on (028) 71 253 253 Ext 6635.