CALLS are mounting for action to be increased at recycling centres after it emerged apathetic residents and unscrupulous traders were costing the public purse about £50,000 a year in one district alone by failing to dispose of their waste correctly. 

A meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board was told despite efforts to improve signage and CCTV being installed at its Bring Banks, which collect paper, card, plastics, cans and glass, cross contamination of recycled waste was a growing problem.

Corporate director Colin Dales told members as the basis of its recycling contract was “clean” sorted recyclates, the council had negotiated an arrangement with waste management firm Ward to half the cost of re-sorting contaminated recycling.

He said: “As you can imagine it is quite a labour-intensive process to re-sort it.”

Members told the meeting the cost was unacceptable and suggested closer surveillance of the centres was needed.

Councillor Stuart Parsons told the meeting a number of the authority’s  20 recycling banks were “absolutely appalling” as they were overused leading to “an unbelievable amount of rubbish piled up”. He said the council needed to increase collections from the centres and that he had often witnessed residents and businesses, which are not allowed to use the banks, dumping unsorted waste.

Cllr Parsons said: “Unfortunately if a business has disposed of stuff, officially the whole container is contaminated because it is not supposed to be for business waste. An awful lot of businesses do not have their own private arrangements with contractors to collect. That is becoming more and more of a problem, where they will just drive up in the morning with their vans. Sometimes they just basically empty the whole van and leave that with us to deal with.”

Mr Dales replied: “The level of contamination from site to site is variable and the levels of overspill is variable. It is certainly something we need to monitor.”

After being asked about the impact of sending unsorted waste for disposal, Mr Dales said the authority would lose some of the recycling credit payments from North Yorkshire County Council. He added: “I think a bigger issue is we lose our credibility. The vast majority of people put the right things in the right bins and they need to be confident we are recycling and not just sending it for incineration or to landfill.”

Mr Dales said he had recently visited East Riding Council as it had a 65 per cent recycling rate compared to Richmondshire’s 42 per cent.

He said: “The key reason is that they recycle food waste at kerbside. We and a lot of other authorities don’t do that at the moment.”

The council’s leader Councillor Angie Dale added: “It is about knowledge, it’s about people understanding what they can actually put outside. As well, a lot of people haven’t got the space to put out the boxes.”