Perth waste managers have now paid out around £100,000 in “financial penalties” due to the quantity of “contaminated” recycling placed in the region’s blue bins.
That’s equivalent to the annual council tax bill for around 76 band D properties.
A large number of home workers creating more household rubbish is understood to be putting unprecedented strain on the region’s recycling system.
People are continuing to put too much food waste and other non-recyclable items in their blue bins.
Have Perth and Kinross recycling campaigns worked?
Managers have been trying to tackle the problem with a public awareness campaign – Stick to the Six.
The key materials Perth and Kinross residents should put in their blue recycling bins are paper, cardboard, plastic containers, cans, tins and cartons.
But despite improving the problem, the campaign has not yet brought contamination rates down to an acceptable level.
The rates dropped from 28.1% in March 2021 – before the campaign – to 20.4% in July. That was the lowest rate in the past 12 months.
French waste management firm SUEZ, however, levies charges when the contamination rate is greater than 20%.
SNP Highland Perthshire councillor Mike Williamson said it was concerning to learn the equivalent of “one in five lorries” remained contaminated.
He said: “This does come with a financial cost to council tax payers but it also undermines everyone’s efforts.
“I believe that the Tory-led administration of the council should show leadership and be a lot more ambitious in reducing the accepted contamination figure much further.”
It was “encouraging” to learn about the reduction between March and July this year, he added.
The problem first came to light earlier this year.
Why has the council paid an extra £100k?
Multinational SUEZ has levied “financial penalties” on the local authority after the recycling waste it collected failed to meet with agreed quality standards.
Richard Hinchcliffe is regional manager at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK.
He said: “We encourage residents in Perth and Kinross to ‘stick to the six’ and only put recyclable material into their recycling bins.”
He said putting non-recyclable material in the recycling bin creates extra costs.
“If recycling bins are heavily contaminated, the entire load has to be disposed of either through Energy-from-Waste or landfill.
The company then has to pay a gate fee and landfill tax, he added.
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman defended the Stick to the Six campaign.
He said it had seen contamination in blue bins drop to its lowest level in a year.
“We know climate change is one of the most pressing issues to our residents.
“Historically high levels of recycling in Perth and Kinross have shown this.
Residents had responded positively to the ongoing Stick to the Six campaign.
“We are confident residents will continue to work with us to get contamination back down to pre-Covid levels.”