Sort the trash from the junk to help save cash

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THAT’S what we want to hear,” Louise Atherton shouts as thousands of glass and plastic bottles fall to the ground.

One of the council’s dozens of recycling trucks has just completed a drop-off at the vast recycling depot off Makerfield Way, Ince.

Recycling officer Louise Atherton at the recycling and waste management depot

Recycling officer Louise Atherton at the recycling and waste management depot

This particular truck has been collecting brown bins earlier in the morning and Louise, a recycling officer, sounds confident that this batch has not been “contaminated.”

Minutes earlier, at another section of the complex, Louise was not quite as cheery as a truck depositing collections from black bins was dropped off.

As the waste fell to the ground, the crack of glass bottles could be heard among the racket.

“That’s not good,” Louise explains.

“You can hear the glass there, that shouldn’t be put in black bins.”

As part of their new deal with residents, Wigan Council is hoping to increase its rates of recycling efficiency in order to access incentive based funds from the Government.

But in order to help Louise and her colleagues at the depot, residents are being urged not to just recycle more, but to recycle right.

Because - as we are frequently told during our trip around the depot - contamination (or putting the wrong materials in the wrong bins) causes more problems than residents may think.

Louise said: “Two of our issues have been with people putting hard plastics into their brown bins, which are for soft plastics and glass.

“We see paint tins, plastic toys and hose-pipes being put in there and they contaminate the batch. This means they may have to go to landfill, which costs money.

“People may think that if they get the odd thing wrong, we’d be able to take it out. But you can see the scale of the operation, it’s impossible to do that.

“Similarly, we have an issue in the green bins when people don’t use the compostable bags and use plastic bags instead. That also contaminates the batch.”

Council officials said its waste management services collect more than 132,000 tonnes per year with approximately 64,000 tonnes of that are recycled, a rate of 48.5 per cent.

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for the environment, said: “I’d like to thank residents for their support so far in reducing recycling rates. The people of the borough are recycling more than ever and that means we are beating government targets.

“But we need people to do more. The more we recycle the more money we save. We’re still seeing lots of recyclable materials put into black bins and then sent to landfill. This costs us money. Another issue is contamination in recycling bins. It is great residents are recycling but we need them to recycle right. Putting waste into the right bins is critical.

The recycling system introduced in 2012 has already saved more than £2m. A further five per cent reduction in non-recyclable waste would save the council £322,000 every year.

Coun Anderson added: “The cost to the council of dealing with waste is declining and we have more money to spend on other things such as road repairs, training for young people and the council tax freeze we have just announced. With the government’s spending cuts, any savings we can make have a big impact on our budget.”

For more information on how to recycle more effectively visit www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Bins-Recycling/Which-bin-do-I-use.aspx