Cardiff Council to fine residents who persistently recycle incorrectly

Cardiff residents that persistently place non-recyclable items in recycling containers face the prospect of a fine and prosecution if they do not heed warnings from Cardiff Council to recycle properly as part of the council’s bid to reduce contamination and increase the city’s recycling rate.

Cardiff’s new campaign, set to be rolled out from 2 March and entitled ‘See Pink, Stop and Think’, will see pink stickers placed on recycling and garden waste bags incorrectly presented as part of a five-step process that could lead to a £100 fixed penalty notice (FPN) or court proceedings for persistent offenders.

If a pink sticker is placed on a recycling bag, residents will have to remove the incorrect items before presenting it for collection at the next collection date.

Infographic showing impacts of contamination on Cardiff's recycling.The new scheme comes as new figures reveal that 20 per cent of waste being placed in green bags for recycling contains incorrect materials that contaminate the recycling stream, with the main items being dirty nappies, clothes, non-recyclable packaging and food waste.

Contamination is also an issue for garden waste bins – although at the lower level of five per cent – with items such as watering cans, cardboard, garden furniture and parts of sheds ending up in with green waste.

The stickers will direct residents to a website, which provides an ‘A-Z of recyclables’ so they can familiarise themselves with which items should be placed in recycling containers. If deemed necessary, waste education officers will be sent to visit households to help residents to understand where they are going wrong.

It is hoped that reducing contamination, which leads to 7,000 tonnes of the 40,000 tonnes of recycled waste collected every year by the Council going unrecycled, will save around £750,000 and will see a significant jump in the city’s recycling rate.

Cardiff posted the third lowest recycling rate of any local authority in Wales in 2018/19 at 59.2 per cent – just under five per cent short of the Welsh Government’s 2019/20 target of 64 per cent.

Educating residents

Cardiff’s use of targeted communications and engagement for those not recycling properly is a route that local authorities increasingly appear to be going down in order to increase recycling rates.

Early last year, after banning recyclable materials in black bin bags to maximise materials collected for recycling, Swansea Council introduced the ‘Keep it out’ campaign, which provided a continual stream of communications to non-compliant residents, with the ultimate threat of a £100 FPN for those that didn’t change their ways. The campaign has seen a 15 per cent reduction in residual waste, which the council predicts will translate to a two per cent increase in its recycling rate.

Commenting on Cardiff’s campaign, Cllr Michael Michael, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment at Cardiff Council, said: “This campaign has been designed to educate the public on what materials should be put into the green bags for recycling and what materials should be put in either the green wheeled bins, or bags, for composting.

“Over a rolling 12-week period, if a resident puts incorrect items in either their green bags or their green compost bin (or bags) on five separate occasions, they will be given a fixed penalty notice of £100.

“It is important to emphasise that this campaign and the five stages outlined only apply to residents putting the wrong materials in their recycling and composting. For all other environmental offences, such as littering, fly-tipping, flyposting, as well as others, waste enforcement will operate as usual.

The five-step process

  1. If incorrect recyclable waste is seen by waste collectors in either the green bags or the green-wheelie bin, a pink sticker will be placed on the container advising the resident to take action.
  2. If the incident happens again, another sticker will be put on the container and a letter will be sent to the address advising the resident that they have put incorrect items in their waste and advising them to take action.
  3. If a third breach occurs, a third sticker will be put on the container and a formal letter will be sent to the resident to advise them that they could receive a FPN if they present contaminated recycling again.
  4. If a further breach occurs, a fourth sticker will be put on the waste container and a Section 46 Notice will be issued. This is a legal letter to notify the resident how waste should be presented for collection and that failure to comply will result in a FPN.
  5. A fifth breach will result in a FPN of £100. Failure to comply will result in the Council taking the matter to the Magistrates’ Court for prosecution.

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