Carrier bags no longer accepted in mixed recycling

plastic bags 9 nov 2015
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council is no longer accepting plastic carrier bags in household mixed recycling bins.

The Council says the change, which starts from today (9 Nov 2015), has been made for two reasons:

“From the beginning of October 2015 large shops have been charging shoppers at least 5p for each single-use carrier bag they use, as a result of recent legislation designed to deter their use. We encourage you to shop with reusable bags, it’s better for the environment and it will save you money.

We also need to improve the quality of your dry mixed recycling (glass, cans, plastics & cartons) and make it more marketable in what is currently a very challenging marketplace. Plastic bags hamper the automatic detection and separation of different polymers at many sorting facilities. This slows down the process and hence increases processing cost.

These two things combined has led the council to review its acceptance of plastic bags in the mixed recycling, so from the 9 November 2015 we will no longer accept plastic carrier bags in the mixed recycling bin.

Please do however continue to recycle all your plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, plus all the other items you can put in your mixed recycling bin, including glass bottles & jars, cans, foil, aerosols and cartons (foil & wax lined). See what can go into your mixed recycling bin, and the items we don’t want in this bin.”

Residents with plastic bags are being asked to:

  • re-use them for shopping
  • use them as waste bin liners / sack
  • use them to contain pet waste
  • recycle them at a supermarket’s in-store carrier bag recyling point
  • “as a last resort”, place them in the green refuse bin.

The move has drawn criticism on the Council’s Facebook page, with comments that the bags will end up in landfill. Among its responses, the Council said it wanted people to recycle the bags at local supermarkets, and gave further background on the change:

“The reason we are changing our recycling system is because we are now working with a new recycling partner – Viridor. The plant receives our dry mixed recycling which is sorted via a system of conveyors and machinery. Plastic is separated into its different polymer types using optical technology. Loose supermarket carrier bags cause two problems: firstly, they blind or cover material, therefore prevent identification of the polymer type and secondly they become entangled within the moving parts of the process line. As a subsequence the plant has to be stopped and cleared by hand, which is unnecessary and expensive, as it cuts processing capacity.”

Stickers and ‘hangers’ on bins are also being used to publicise the changes.


Council information on plastic bag change

Guide to what can go in the mixed recycling bin

Council Facebook page


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