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More than 3,000 tones of recycling rejected in Portsmouth at a cost of nearly £300,000

New data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed 3,120 tonnes of waste collected by Portsmouth City Council were rejected at the point of sorting in the year to March – though this was less than the 3,187 tonnes rejected the previous year.

Recycling charity Wrap, which works with governments and companies on sustainability, estimates that waste disposed of as recycling, which is then found not to be recyclable, costs councils around £93 per tonne to dispose of.

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Plastic bottles packed for recycling at the Veolia waste plant in Portsmouth
Picture: Habibur Rahman

It would mean rejected waste cost taxpayers in Portsmouth an estimated £290,160 in 2020-21 alone.

Overall, the authority collected 74,211 tonnes of waste, up from 73,205 the year before.

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, pointed the finger at manufacturers who produce non-recyclable plastic packaging, which is then put in the recycling bin by people ‘in good faith.’

He said: ‘The burden then falls on councils to not only collect it and dispose of it, but to pay the extra cost of disposing of it.

‘At a time when councils are working towards achieving net zero, they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back, courtesy of manufacturers who are littering our communities with plastic they know cannot be disposed of sustainably.’

In Portsmouth items that can be recycled at home via green bins include plastic bottles, tin cans, aerosol cans, cardboard and paper. Plastic trays, yogurt pots, cartons, glass and foil are some of the items that can’t be recycled.

Across England, 647,000 tonnes of recycling were rejected in the year to March, up from 525,000 tonnes the year before and the largest amount since records began in 2006/07.

A Defra spokeswoman commented: ‘We want to make recycling easier and ensure there is a comprehensive, consistent service across England.

‘Our landmark Environment Act will transform the way we deal with rubbish.’

The act states food and garden waste should always be collected separately from dry recycling and residual waste.

‘It means recyclable materials will have to be collected separately, while separate food waste collection will also help reduce contamination,’ she added.

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