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Record amount of Waltham Forest recycling rejected

More than 5,000 tonnes of recycling was rejected in the 2021/22 financial year, new figures show

(Credit: Penny Dampier)

A record amount of Waltham Forest recycling was “rejected” in the 2021/22 financial year, new figures show.

Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show an estimated 5,170 tonnes of trash placed in the borough’s recycling bins that year could not be recycled.

This is the highest amount recorded since records of rejected recycling began in 2014/15, when only 1,193 tonnes of recycling was rejected in the borough.

Recycling can be rejected due to contamination or because the material is not actually recyclable. Across England as a whole, 6.4% of recycling in 2021/22 was rejected, while the rejected recycling in Waltham Forest accounted for 13.8% of the 37,447 tonnes of household waste sent for recycling.

In turn, this amount makes up 32% of all waste produced in the borough that year, a slight increase from the 31.9% recycling rate reported the previous year. This means the borough remains below the London average of 33% and well below the nationwide average of 42.3%


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Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes has previously called for new legislation to make recycling compulsory.

Speaking at a neighbourhoods scrutiny committee last year, he said: “I find it quite obscene that recycling is still a voluntary endeavour and that councils have no recourse – people can just go and stick their stuff in the black bin.

“We’re hoping to get up to 50% recycling in the coming couple of years – that’s a big leap from where we are now – but that is realistically where we need to go.”

Regarding the amount of recycling being rejected, he added: “A lot of this is about education reinforcing behaviour changes […] contamination [is happening] because people put things like dirty nappies and pizza boxes that are greasy.”

The North London Waste Authority was contacted for comment on last year’s figures but had yet to respond at the time of writing.


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