A question we often get asked as recycling officers is “Why can’t I recycle certain items?”
In this posting I’m going to explain why we can’t recycle a couple of items that we most commonly get asked about – and what the alternative uses are for these items.
There are a couple of reasons why we can’t recycle mixed plastics:
1. Our contractor (Veolia), who sorts and separates all the recyclable material for Lewisham Council stipulate that they want plastic bottles only.
2. There is a very limited market or demand for this kind of material, as it is of a poorer quality than the plastics used to make plastic bottles.
3. A small amount of mixed plastics are made out of the similar plastic to plastic bottles. But it is difficult for our collection crews to then identify if they cannot be recycled, as they would have to look for numbers on the bottom of all plastic packaging.
By just accepting plastic bottles we make sure we receive the best quality plastic – and it makes it easier for residents to identify what can be recycled.
We are still working with Veolia to find a consistent and stable market for mixed plastics. As soon as we do, we’ll let you know and start collecting them. We want to be able to collect as many materials as possible!
You can recycle mixed plastics at the Sainsburys in New Cross and at the Sava Centre in Sydenham, where they have specific mixed plastic bins. Alternatively you could make plastic dogs!
The problem with recycling shredded paper is that the Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) that we use uses automatic sorting equipment to sort through the vast amount of recycling.
The machine recognises many different types of material, but has difficulty distinguishing small or shredded paper. Because of the numerous processes that the material goes through, shredded paper often gets mixed up with crushed glass. This affects the quality of the glass which is produced as a result of this process. Shredded paper can also cause problems by jamming the machinery in the plant.