County Durham recyclers reminded not to use bags

Jack Wilkinson, operations manager at BIFFA, with Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships at Durham County Council, and Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of environment, at the BIFFA plant in Washington, where recycling from County Durham is processed.

Residents are being reminded not to place items inside bags when filling their recycling bins and boxes.

Stickers will be attached to all recycling wheelie bins in County Durham from Tuesday, 25 June, advising households that bags – such as black bin liners, bags for life and carrier bags – should not be included.

It is part of Durham County Council’s Recycling Matters campaign, which aims to reduce contamination by educating residents about what can and cannot be recycled.

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of environment, said: “We’d like to thank everyone for recycling but also remind residents that it’s important to only place clean, loose items into their bins.

“Residents may think they are helping us by putting their recycling in black bin liners and bags first, but the reality is that if we can’t see what’s inside, they can’t see it at the recycling plant either, and in some instances, it might be a bag of rubbish.

“With large volumes of materials sent for recycling daily, it is not always possible to open the bags to see what’s inside, and even when it is, extra staff have to be deployed to do it, which costs money. What we need are clean, loose items as these are easily sorted”

Recycling properly not only helps the environment -with every recycled can saving enough energy to run a television for four hours – but it is also cost effective. In fact, it costs the council five times more to dispose of general household waste than recycling. This means that by recycling properly, with clean loose, non-bagged items, residents can ensure maximum environmental benefit at the lowest costs to the council.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “In County Durham, we currently reuse, recycle and compost about 44 per cent of all household waste.

“We’re really grateful to the people of County Durham for doing such a good job but we need to remind people how important it is to place recyclable items into the recycling bin loose, after giving them a quick wash and squash.”

Residents are encouraged to place plastic pots, tubs, trays and bottles in their blue bins, along with cans, aerosols, foil, paper and cardboard. Glass bottles and jars should go into the recycling box, and all objects should be clean and dry. If a resident has excess recycling that cannot fit in their blue lidded bin, even when the contents are squashed, the extra items should be placed in a clear plastic bag next to the recycling bin.

Plastic bags containing rubbish can still be put in waste bins.

For more information about what can and cannot be recycled in County Durham, visit or follow Recycle for County Durham on Facebook.

Recycling collected in County Durham is taken to Biffa’s recycling plant in Washington. The vast majority of the plastic collected is sent to reprocessors within the UK. Biffa only exports materials when there is no viable UK outlet. Any material it does export is done through licensed and accredited exporters and is sent to facilities that have been approved by the UK Environment Agency.  


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