Recycling – how to get it right!

Although recycling is getting more and more common, lots of people are still not sure exactly which materials can be recycled. In Aberdeen, the recycling service varies depending on what area you live in, and whether you live in a house or a flat, and that can make it confusing too. What makes it even more confusing is the fact that recycling does change between countries and cities, and because people move around a lot more nowadays it takes time to understand each system. The kerbside recycling service is the most common in Aberdeen and that’s why we thought we should open up the topic again and give some clarification about what items can be recycled in your black box and white or blue bag.

The only thing you need to get it right is a Recycling Guide so you know what items to put in the box and bag, a collection calendar and a bit of a motivation to help send all those materials into the recycling loop!

Aberdeen City Council can only collect materials that are accepted by the re-processors, those that are available for us up here in the North East. We have to consider the ‘proximity principle’ – that is, the need to choose a suitable re-processor as close as possible to Aberdeen in order to minimise the costs and environmental impact of transporting the materials for recycling.

It is important to only recycle the correct materials. Wrong materials that go into the box and bag are called contamination and that causes problems for the recycling process.

If, for example, contamination is too high, it can negatively impact the market value of the materials. Or, even worse, the whole load could be rejected by the re-processor and sent to landfill. If you do try to recycle the wrong things, the crew will leave a sticker to let you know what items cannot be accepted.

Here are the top 5 items that are wrongly recycled in the black box:
Food and drink cartons

Food and drink cartons: At present, carton recycling is not feasible for the Council to introduce as part of the kerbside recycling collection. However, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK, provides recycling bins for cardboard food and drink cartons at some Recycling Points in Aberdeen. These recycling bins are located at Asda Dyce, Asda Garthdee, Kingswells Park and Ride, Sainsburys Berryden, Sainsburys Garthdee, and Tesco Danestone.

Plastic tubs and trays

Yoghurt pots, plastic packaging, margarine and ice-cream tubs It’s not possible to recycle plastic trays and tubs in the black box at the moment. In the future, the Council will change to a mixed recycling collection which will enable all recycling to be collected from a single wheelie bin. This new system will enable the Council to collect more materials such as white and clear plastic tubs and trays.

Crisp packet

Foil pouches, crisp packets and sweet wrappers: These cannot be recycled! Please put them in the general waste bin.

Polystyrene Containers

Polystyrene: Food trays or egg boxes made from polystyrene cannot be recycled and should be placed in your general waste bin. Styropack in Aberdeen can accept clean polystyrene for recycling.

Pyrex jug and other glass items

Drinking glasses and pyrex dishes: Glass items like these are made to a different ‘recipe’ from glass bottles and jars, and melt at different temperatures, which means they cannot be recycled together. Adding these items to your kerbside recycling can cause a fire or explosion at the re-processing facility.

Another thing we are often asked is if people can put extra recycling out in their own containers. The answer is no, so please only use the Council’s recycling containers!

The black box and white/blue bag are designed to comply with health and safety requirements in order to help prevent injuries caused by lifting. There are also operational reasons. The kerbside recycling vehicle has five separate compartments in which to collect your waste. These are for: green glass, brown glass, clear glass, paper/cardboard and plastic bottles/cans.  A lip on the side of the black box enables it to sit securely on the side of the vehicle, so the crew can have both hands free to easily sort materials into their correct compartment. Using non-Council recycling containers makes it difficult for the crew to sort material. It can also cause safety concerns, especially when handling glass.

The good news, though, is that you can order extra boxes and bags free of charge by filling in the online form here or contacting the Recycling Team. The other option for recycling additional materials is to take them to one of the Recycling Points or Recycling Centres.

And finally, please remember to keep your recycling box clean.

We hope this has been a useful reminder of how to use the kerbside recycling service. If you have any queries, leave us a comment here or contact us on Facebook.


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