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Monday 17th October 2022

Image: Tobias Tullius

This recycle week we’re getting real about contamination. What it is and why it even matters.

You may think that all paper is recycled, but this isn't always the case. Just a small amount of moisture, grease, food or drink residue can render a load of paper recycling less useful. This is because, in order to create new loads of good-quality paper, we need clean paper without contamination. The recycling process breaks down the paper, and we reuse the long fibers to create new product. If paper has food residue on it, it will rot, breaking down the fibers, reducing their quality in the process. What's more, the machines which deal with the paper are delicate and require clean paper to not slow them down.

Therefore, plastic isn’t always enemy number 1 (providing it's not littered). This is because it can be easily cleaned, reused and eventually recycled fully. However, paper soaks up oil and is not reusable, or recyclable and can further contaminate recycling if it's placed in a recycling bin.

So, why does it matter?

Well, many people don’t think further than placing an item in the bin as to where it ends up. Most recycling involves an element of hand-sorting and instead of focusing on improving the quality of recycling, workers spend their time finding unrecyclable and contaminated items (such as tissues).

So, how can you tackle contamination?

It requires you, when you have some rubbish, to ask yourself just a few simple questions:

1. Does this item contain elements which aren’t recyclable?
2. Is this item clean, if not, can I give it a quick rinse?
3. Am I placing this item in the correct bin?

Image: Mel Chipfakacha

At Recorra, we offer trips to our MRF sorting facility, which allows businesses and staff to see where their waste ends up. This can be invaluable as it shows individuals just how much work goes into extracting the valuable material from their rubbish. What’s more, it highlights to them just how negative the impact wishcycling is. Especially when it comes to items like tissues, kitchen roll and food wrappings/straws. If your business is keen to engage in environmental awareness activities, whether it be a beach clean or a MRF tour get in touch with your account manager or make an enquiry now or contact our friendly customer service team here:

Aneira Pontin

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