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Recycling contamination

The contamination of recyclable materials is a big problem not just in Gedling, but across the world.

In many cases, residents want to do their best and recycle as much as they can, however, this can still result in the wrong items being put in the recycling bin.

Manufacturers often use universal icons on their products to let consumers know that the packaging is recyclable. While this sounds great, not all recycling centres can accept the same materials.

It is therefore important to be mindful of the correct items which can be put in recycling bins in the Gedling borough to make sure we’re all effectively making positive and sustainable choices.

For a list of items and materials which can and cannot be recycled in Gedling, visit our item list webpage, or view the Nottinghamshire Recycles 'Are you bin smart?' leaflet for more information.

FAQs about recycling contamination

The item packaging said it’s ‘widely recycled’, why has it been rejected?

Not all recycling centres can sort and recycle the same materials. This is why it is important to check which specific items can and can't be put in recycling bins in your area.

Recycling sorting machines and manual checks

Why can some plastics or cardboard/ paper be recycled and not others?

Plastic and card items contain different grades of material and finishes, many of which cannot be recycled in the same way as other items.

Softer, lower grade materials such as plastic bags and bin liners should not be put in your recycling bin as they can get tangled around the sorting machines.

Food residue contamination is another reason that takeaway food packaging, such as pizza boxes, cannot be recycled.

The sorting machines cannot effectively sort some items, such as shredded paper, as they may fall through gaps or cannot be separated easily.

Why is a bin rejected for having a wrong item/ material in it?

It takes just 5% of contaminated waste for a lorry load of otherwise recyclable materials to be rejected from the recycling centre. When this happens, that lorry load will be sent to the incinerator instead, along with your general waste. This means that all of the other recyclable materials in that load will not actually be recycled.

Ensuring you’re only putting the correct items in your recycling bin can help reduce the amount of contamination and increase recycling success in the Gedling borough.

Plastic recycling cubed waste 

VIDEO: A behind-the-scenes look at the Veolia recycling facility in Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, from BBC News, showing the sorting process. Watch the video. (opens an external webpage).

Lots more useful information on recycling in Nottinghamshire can be found on the Nottinghamshire County Council FAQs webpage, or the Veolia website.

You can also search specific items on the Recycle Now website to check where certain materials can be recycled in your area and find out what items you can recycle at home.