Hundreds of residents in Teignbridge have been sent letters from the council for flouting recycling rules.

Council officers can put advisory stickers on bins when householders have put items that should have been recycled or composted in their black bins.

If their black bin is stickered twice then the council will send them a letter to remind them of what can be recycled and the correct containers to use. If the is bin tagged for a third time, they then receive a second reminder letter.

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Teignbridge District Council has confirmed that 222 letters have been sent to residents since March.

Teignbridge recycling boxes

Teignbridge recycling boxes

And they confirmed that if residents continue to put recyclable and compostable items in their black bin, they will get a knock on the door from council officers.

Cllr Gordon Hook, leader of the council, has also revealed that more than 20 per cent of the content in black bins is waste food, all of which could and should be in the food caddies provided for the purpose.

 

Issuing a plea to residents, Cllr Hook said: “We need to improve our recycling performance throughout Teignbridge for lots of very good reasons. Can I ask therefore that if you are currently ‘black binning’ your food waste you put it all in the caddie instead?

“Similarly, an awful lot of ‘normal’ recyclable material is going into the black bin. Please make the effort to use the recycling boxes available and let’s see a marked increase in recycling locally. It makes sense. It is potentially a financial as well as environmental benefit.”

Cllr Gordon Hook

Speaking at a recent overview and scrutiny committee meeting, Chris Braines, waste and cleansing manager, said that around 80 per cent of people in the district are fully engaged with recycling, 10 per cent may need the occasional reminder of what can be recycled, but there are around 10 per cent of people who are ‘hard nuts to crack’ who need to get on board.

He added: “We are trying to get to and reach those who aren’t engaged to participate in recycling. We can send a letter to people if they are putting stuff in the black bins that should be recycled advising them that they are doing it wrong. Eventually they could get a visit from officers if they still aren’t doing things properly.”

Teignbridge recycling boxes

Teignbridge recycling boxes

A Teignbridge District Council spokesman, confirming more details of the policy, said: “We target educational messages and support in areas where we know there is low participation in recycling. This can include people not putting their boxes out, black bins are overflowing with waste that can be recycled or where unsuitable items are being put out for collection.

 

“We inspect bins in these areas over four consecutive collections just to be sure that there is an issue and then we take steps to encourage a change in behaviour that will help people understand why recycling more is so positive for the environment. It also helps the council generate an income from the sale of materials and helps support the costs of the service and keep costs down.

A Teignbridge Recycling Lorry

A Teignbridge Recycling Lorry

“Where any recyclable material is found, we put an advisory sticker on the bin to tell the householder that the item (s) that could have been recycled or composted and which container to put the items in.

“Householders who have had their black bin stickered twice receive a letter to remind them of what can be recycled and the correct containers to use. Householders who have their black bin tagged three times receive a second reminder letter, and since March, Teignbridge has sent 222 letters to households across Teignbridge.

 

“Most people have a really good idea of how to manage their waste which is the main reason why Teignbridge had the highest recycling rate in Devon last year. There are occasions where, unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, a small minority of people put recyclable and compostable items in their black bin.

“At that stage we will try and make personal contact with the resident to see identify if there is a genuine reason for not recycling, make sure they have the correct containers and can offer bespoke advice and guidance.”

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Portfolio Holder for Waste Management and Environmental Services, added: “Teignbridge takes a proportional, proactive approach to encourage residents to participate fully in the recycling services, make sure they know what goes where and have the right containers. We’re very proud of our record in recycling which is largely down to our residents who go to great efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

 

Teignbridge currently operate a kerbside sort model of recycling, where food waste, plastics and foils, cardboard and glass, paper and magazines, textiles, and garden waste is collected separately from the kerbside, with the onus of the individual to separate and place the items into the correct containers.

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Teignbridge’s recycling rates at 55.4 per cent for 2017/18 were the highest among all councils in Devon, despite them having fallen 0.3 per cent from the previous year.

But the council is set to lose its crown as the best region in Devon for 2018/19 as East Devon District Council has been averaging 60 per cent recycling rates for the first 10 months of the year.

Teignbridge Council's recycling truck

Teignbridge Council’s recycling truck

At the overview and scrutiny meeting, Cllr Dave Rollason asked whether it would be simpler for residents and would increase the recycling rate if they changed to a co-mingled system, where everything is put in the same box and then sorted and separated at the waste facility, as the current system places the onus on individuals to do all the work.

 

But Mr Braines said: “The problem with the co-mingled system is that it is easier for things to become contaminated and it is more expensive to pull things out and separate them later. The kerbside sort does provides higher quality and more valued products and recyclables to sell into the recycling markets.”

And Cllr Sally Morgan added: “I’m happy to separate even more at home if it improves our recycling rates and helps to keep the costs down.”

Mr Braines also mentioned that the Government are currently running a consultation on proposals for a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses across all councils, and consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.

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He said that these will include separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and could include free garden waste collections for households with gardens.

Mr Braines said that while Teignbridge already recycles everything the consultation suggests it should, the garden waste collections would have a financial impact on the council.

Teignbridge offer an optional charged garden waste collection service for residents who want us to collect their garden waste, which costs £40 a year.

 

Over 22,000 homes are signed up and the subscription service generates £750,000 a year for the council.

He said: “If we had to provide it free of charge to all properties, we would not only lose that income stream but there would be additional costs to us as well as we would need more crew and vehicles.”

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