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Food for thought as recycling bins are red tagged due to contamination

Published Friday, 10 May 2019

Over 370 recycling bins have not been emptied in the past two months as East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) carried out district-wide patrols checking for contamination.

In total, 2259 bins were looked at, with 374 rejected and receiving a red tag, which informed the home-owner why their bin has not been emptied, the impacts of contamination and how they can improve the quality of waste and recycling.

If the recycling collected is contaminated above a critical level with non-recyclable items, ENC has to pay extra for the whole waste truck to be sorted, which could potentially lead to increased council tax for residents of East Northants.  It is important that recycling is high-quality so that it can be given a new lease of life and not be sent for disposal.

The checks are key to help ENC identify areas around the district that have a high percentage of contamination. Food waste was found to be the worst contaminant, with 47% of bins not emptied because of it. Only a small amount of food waste in a recycling bin can critically spoil a load.

Charlotte Tompkins, Waste Manager said:

“The patrols are vital to our service and it shows that residents are still needing assistance in getting the right stuff in the right bin.  This is incredibly disappointing as we regularly promote guidance on recycling, with an extensive list of recyclable items can be found on our website or leaflets available at our offices.

“Having the opportunity to collect food waste separately to other waste is something we encourage our residents to do and help reduce the waste that goes to landfill.”

For more information on what can and can’t be recycled, visit

If you have found a red tag on your bin, please check what is inside and remove anything that is not included on the list showing what can be recycled. It is important that all tags are removed from bins once this has been done, or the collection crews or waste officers will assume the bin cannot be emptied.