Rubbish and Recycling - what's the difference?

So what does happen to all of that material that you put out for recycling?

It ends up in landfill right?

Whilst some material we put out for recycling does end up in the landfill, it's usually because it shouldn't have been put in the recycling bin in the first place.

This rubbish, which is referred to in the industry as 'contamination', can have real effects on recycling.

For example, a quarter of a tea cup or 100g of oven-proof glass can make a whole tonne of glass unrecyclable.

People putting home-made 'bongs' in recycling bins can really affect PET soft drink recycling. This is because the PVC is hard to remove from the system when the bottles are being recycled into flake and resin.

If a piece of PVC hose from one of those bongs ends up in a batch of new PET bottles made from recycled PET resin, it will lead to that batch being rejected. This is because the PVC causes small black marks on the clear plastic.

Some people put rubbish in the recycling bin for three reasons.

  1. People are unaware about what can and cannot be recycled in their local area. They put rubbish in the bin in the hope that someone else will sort it out for them.
  2. People put rubbish in the recycling bin with the viewpoint that "someone SHOULD recycle it", even though there may be no end market for that material (it may not even be recyclable in the first place).

    Strangely enough, the people who do this often see themselves as doing the right thing and that they are making a pro-environment statement. The reality unfortunately is exactly the opposite.
  3. Recycling industry sources say that they always get more rubbish in recycling bins shortly after rates notices are issues. A small number of people get angered by having to pay for waste collection and minimisation and take it out on the recycling bin by putting rubbish in it.

    Other materials like dead dogs, dirty nappies, the lids on soft drink bottles and even gas cylinders often end up in our recycling bins. They shouldn't as they affect the ability of recyclers to make the most of what we give them.

    If you need more information about what you can recycle in your local area, you must always call your local council recycling officer. One aspect of their job is to help you recycle better. Or go to and type in your postcode or council name to find out what is recycled near you.