Dear Sir
I work for the company that receives the recycling Durham County Council collects from Aycliffe. I live in Newton Aycliffe myself and pay council tax. Over the last few months I have noticed a number of complaints about the council’s service and the last one was the final straw.
All the recycling bins should have a sticker on them saying what is acceptable in the bins: paper, cardboard  and cartons, plastic bottles, pots and trays, plus metal cans, tins  and aerosols, with a separate box for glass bottles and jars and to “if in doubt leave it out”.
Despite this we regularly receive used nappies, bags of dog poo, tins of paint, green waste, duvets, rabbit hutch sweepings, hypodermic needles, food contaminated packaging and food leftovers within  recyclables from the County Durham  area, which we have to sort and remove.
We have even had dead birds, dogs and even snakes including a 6 ft long python. The recyclables are sorted at an  automated facility but people still work there providing valuable jobs as some of the materials can only be sorted by hand – snakes and all!
The bin men make the best of a hard job and have a duty of care to check what is inside the “recycling” bin before they empty it, to try and help stop this contamination from happening, unfortunately they can’t see through black plastic bags or have the time to open and sift through them.  They are definitely not being “jobsworths” by refusing to empty recycling bins with black bag(s) inside.
There has been considerable publicity and effort, including extra surveillance staff that  the council have used to try and educate householders as to what can and can’t be recycled via the recycling bin.
I presume the “no white clear plastic” written on other section of the correspondent’s warning sticker on the bin refers to plastic film or bags, neither of which falls into any of the “acceptable” categories’ described above.
The list  of items that the council cannot recycle via the bins is not getting bigger by the the week and is still  the same  now as it was four years ago. Your correspondent should think themselves lucky, as the list is comprehensive. Other councils don’t collect cartons,  plastic pots and trays or even glass and expect householders to take those  to recycling centres themselves.
I think most reasonable people wouldn’t expect us to put up with some of the disgusting and even dangerous contamination I have described. We have invested considerable sums in providing the facility, which in these time of austerity the Council wouldn’t be able to do, but we certainly aren’t making excessive profits as suggested.
Yes the council provides a service to the council tax payer but this should only be up to a point and the tax payer has responsibilities too. The council are not being dictators and are simply asking residents to behave in a responsible way. It is a minority of residents that are lazy, or unaware, or  anti social  that are spoiling  it  for the majority that want to do the right thing.
I would gladly give  the correspondent and a representative of Newton News a guided tour of our recycling facility to give an insight into what actually happens after recyclables are collected – the effort and technology that is required, what is actually technically, environmentally   and economically possible and how they can help to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste. If they would like to contact me through Newton News I can arrange this.
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