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Recycle right

Although residents in North Herts are doing a fantastic job with recycling, we have been receiving a lot of items that cannot be recycled in our mixed recycling bins. We know that it can be confusing as to what can and cannot be recycled and even committed recyclers may not get it right 100% of the time, so this campaign aims to help make recycling simpler.

Why it's important to recycle right

The problems with putting items that can’t be recycled into your recycling bin are:

  • They can spoil the recyclable items. Just think what a dirty nappy could do to clean recyclables! Please make sure you keep your recyclables clean and empty.
  • They get caught in the machinery at the recycling centre.
  • It might mean they can’t be recycled. Some items such as electrical goods need specialist equipment to process them for recycling which is only available if they are collected at a Household Waste Recycling Centre (dump or tip).
  • It increases the likelihood of our recycling facilities rejecting whole lorry loads and them being sent to landfill – which has both a negative effect on the environment and the council tax payers’ wallet.
  • It means it can’t be reused – charity shops are a good option for suitable items in good condition, such as toys, furniture and books.
  • It costs council tax payers more due to longer sorting times and processing costs.

How to make sure you're recycling properly

  • Ensure recyclables are clean before you place them in your bin.
  • Keep plastic film and carrier bags out of your recycling bin.
  • If you’re unsure about what plastics you can recycle visit our plastics recycling page for more information.
  • Use our online A-Z guide which shows what items go in each bin.
  • If in doubt, leave it out – this helps ensure we are only sending the right materials to be recycled.

The benefits of recycling right

Recycling right really does make a difference:

  • It enables us to collect good clean recycling that can be turned into something new. Go to the What happens to my recycling page to find out more.
  • It can boost North Hertfordshire’s recycling rate. Householders in North Hertfordshire already recycled almost half the waste they produced last year.
  • With your help we can recycle even more of the correct items.

The most common incorrect items found in the mixed recycling bin

  • Hard plastics – such as toys
  • Soft plastics – such as carrier bags, plastic film (cling wrap)
  • Electrical items
  • Food waste
  • Black bags of general rubbish

Common questions

Some bottles have film or paper sleeves what should I do with these?
Sleeves on bottles should ideally be removed. The paper ones can go in your paper box or recycling bin. The plastic film ones should go in your purple bin.

What should I do with spray bottle triggers?
These are made from different plastic types and should be removed from the bottle and placed in your purple bin.

What do you mean by plastic film?
Much of the unwanted plastic film we receive is in the form of carrier bags, but cling film and the film lids on plastic trays should also be removed and put in your purple bin.

Textiles can be reused or recycled, why can’t I put these in my recycling bin?
Please ensure your textiles are recycled at a textile bank or a charity shop. Alternatively they can be recycled at your local recycling centre.

Why do I have to clean my recyclables, surely that isn’t environmentally friendly?
Dirty recyclables ruins other recyclables. Imagine what a couple of spoons of ketchup would do if you mixed it into a pile of cardboard. For recyclables to be useful they need to be able to be easily turned into new products this is harder, more expensive and more waste is created in the process if items are dirty.

I only had one wrong item in my bin, why is that a problem?
We collect from around 5000 houses each day if every bin had one incorrect item it would cause us a big problem. Processing plants have no choice but to turn away our recyclables if they are too contaminated and so everyone’s efforts would go to waste.

Why doesn’t North Hertfordshire recycle plastic carrier bags and film?
Each Council sends its materials to different reprocessing plants to be sorted. The facilities have different machinery capable of doing different jobs. We can’t all send our material to the same facilities and hauling material long distances can be expensive so we only collect materials which can be easily processed without unnecessary costs.