According to figures revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Daily Mail, the amount of waste being sent to landfill instead of being recycled has doubled in the last three years.
With the landfill tax having gone up from £80 per tonne in 2014, to £82.60 per tonne in 2015, it was hoped that the increased rates would encourage people and businesses to find alternative means of disposing their rubbish.
Despite this, the contents of one in five recycling bins were turned away by a number of councils last year as people were ‘contaminating’ them with incorrect items.
In 2015 it was found that 338,000 tonnes of recycling was either buried or incinerated, representing an 84 per cent rise from 2012.
In the boroughs of Newham, Hammersmith and Fulham, 20 in every 100 bins were turned away, while 18 in every 100 were rejected by Manchester City Council.
Peter Box, environmental spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said that much of the issue will be due to people making genuine mistakes, but action needed to be taken against people who contaminated recycling wilfully.
He said that, “as a last resort, councils also need effective, proportionate powers to take action against households or businesses which persistently or wilfully damage the local environment,” and that “boosting recycling is only addressing half the problem. Retailers, manufacturers and caterers must do more to bring down the waste generated each year.”
The news comes as recycling strikes hit Somerset with the announcement of eight strikes by waste collection workers around Bath.
Some 45 workers are set to strike throughout the coming months, with Unite stating that workers earn roughly £2 an hour less than recycling staff performing similar duties in the nearby city of Bristol.
Speaking to the BBC, Jerry Pickford, Unite’s regional office said that, “our members are angry that they earn £2 less an hour for delivering exactly the same service with a two person crew, while workers in nearby Bristol earn more, but operate with a three person crew.”
Earlier in January, Bath and North East Somerset Council offered to pay volunteers who were willing to collect waste on a temporary basis during the strike action.