People putting things in the wrong bins is costing a Kent council tens of thousands

Contamination in recycling is costing Medway Council tens of thousands of pounds
-Credit: (Image: LDR)

A Kent council is still paying tens of thousands of pounds due to residents putting items in the wrong bins despite campaigns to reduce contamination.

Medway Council has paid £25,000 in additional disposal costs in the five months since it revealed it was shelling out huge sums due to contaminated recycling.

In November last year, the authority revealed it has had to pay £57,000 since October 2022 to deal with waste which had been put in the wrong bag.

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At a meeting of the Regeneration Culture and Environment overview and scrutiny committee on November 15 last year, councillors asked what the council could do to try and raise awareness of the issue and reduce the need for the expense.

But five months later the council has already paid £25,000 to deal with the same problem.

From October 2022 to November 2023, 3,000 tonnes of rubbish had to be processed separately than typical recycling because it had been contaminated, which was a rejection rate of 20% of all kerbside recycling collected.

The data for the following five months shows little change, with 1,042 tonnes of recycling being contaminated and having to be disposed of separately from correctly binned recyclables.

This is a rejection rate of 17% for the 6,117 tonne total so far this year.

Medway Council has made efforts to inform residents about which items go in black bin bags and which in the clear recycling bags – including directly on the bags themselves – however they appear to have been unsuccessful so far.

They have an environmental team which runs events and spreads information through the authority’s website and social media pages to let people know what kind of rubbish goes in which bag.

At the meeting last November, councillors suggested more communications would help reduce the need to spend on contamination, but the problem persists.

A Medway Council spokesman said: “Information on how different types of waste should be recycled is widely available.

“Guidelines are printed on recycling bags issued to households, and are also available on our website and social media channels.

“You can find more information at

“We would encourage residents to check out the information and follow the guidelines to help us recycle their rubbish.“

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