Contamination (or to keep it simple, everything you need to know about non-recyclables in your grey or blue recycling bins!)

Has your bin not been emptied? Have you been left a hanger on your bin? This means your recycling crew cannot empty your bin as it contains non-recyclable items.

We understand that mistakes happen but we can only empty bins that contain clean recyclables. Although the number is reducing, the recycling bin crews still come across bins every day which they cannot empty because they contain the wrong items.

Put simply, contamination means things that should be in another bin, such as:

  • Mixed rubbish like nappies or food which should be in your burgundy bin (not your recycling!)
  • Recyclable items but in the wrong recycling bin e.g Paper in the grey bin instead of the blue bin
  • Dirty recyclables such as half full bottles of cooking sauce (Remember! We can only recycle clean empty bottles)
  • Items that can be recycled but not in your recycling bins at home such as textiles, electrical items, wood etc.

Currently, only around 30% of all the waste we collect in Blackburn with Darwen is recycled – some of the lowest figures in the country.

We want to change that by making it easier for our residents to recycle and at the same time, save money on rubbish disposal, prevent pollution and create jobs.

We’ve created new bin guides with handy A-Z lists of what goes where – click here and take a look now!

Contamination FAQ’S:

  • What does contamination mean?

    A contaminated bin is a recycling bin (grey, blue or brown bin) which contains either the wrong recyclables, mixed rubbish or some of the recyclable items are dirty (e.g half full sauce bottles!)

    Your recycling crews can only empty recycling bins that contain clean recyclables.

    That’s because the non recyclables/dirty rubbish gets mixed in the bin truck with the good, clean recyclables and spoils the whole load.

    Removing these non recyclables (or contaminants) is expensive which means less of your Council Tax can be spent on essential services such as elderly care, education or road pothole repair.

  • How do you know my recycling bin contains the wrong items?

    On collection day, our crews carry out a quick inspection of each bin before they empty it, to check it contains clean recyclables only.

    If a recycling bin contains the wrong items (contamination), your recycling crew cannot empty that bin.

    The crews will leave a hanger on your bin and some recycling sacks to tide you over until your next collection.

    They will also record on their in-cab unit what the contamination is.

    You can check the reason using our missed bin collection form.

  • What to do if your bin is contaminated?

    The simplest and easiest thing is to remove any item in the bin that belongs to another bin, whether that is your rubbish bin or another recycling bin. Your bin will be collected as normal on the next collection day. Squash all the good recyclables that remain so you have bin space until the next collection (and use the clear recycling bags the crew will have left on your bin).

    If you can’t wait for the next collection, we offer a ‘fresh start‘ service for £7.50. We will divert a crew from their normal route to specially empty your bin so you can use it again for recycling. The contents of the bin however, cannot go for recycling because it still contains non recyclable items.

    Book your fresh start now.

  • I'm not sure which items in my recycling bin I need to remove

    We’re here to help!

    We want to make recycling as easy as possible for you and your family so we’ve made it easy to check which items go in which of your recycling and rubbish bins.

    1. Check the guide on the bin hanger
    2. Use the missed bins form on the Council’s website
    3. Have a look at our handy A-Z guides

    Once you’ve done that, make sure everyone in your family knows ‘what goes where’!

    If you’ve tried all of these things and still don’t know what items you need to remove from your recycling bin, please take a picture of your recycling contents and email it to us at:

    We’ll get a member of our Cleansing team to check it over for you!