Contamination of recycling

Contamination occurs when the incorrect items are disposed of in the recycling bin. We are unable to empty contaminated bins, as the unwanted items will contaminate the whole vehicle. Contamination leads to recycling being rejected.

We find that the following items frequently contaminate recycling bins in Guildford Borough. Please DO NOT put these items in your recycling bin:

  • Black bags

  • Food waste (recycle this using your food waste caddy)

  • Expanded polystyrene

  • Nappies

  • Textiles

  • Crisp packets and sweet wrappers

  • Crockery, drinking glasses and Pyrex dishes

  • Hard plastics

  • Wood

  • Plastic film

  • Garden waste (recycle this using our garden waste collection scheme)

Find out how to dispose of these items and many more by viewing our A-Z Recycling Directory.

For what CAN go in your recycling in check What goes in my bins?

How do I know if my bin is contaminated?

Our collection crew will place a hanger on your bin indicating that it was not collected because it contained the incorrect materials. The crew will then log the contaminated bin on their in-cab reporting system. From this, a letter will be generated advising the resident of contamination occurrence.

The letter sent to the property contains recycling guidance advising the resident what can and cannot be recycled in Guildford Borough.

What should I do with my contaminated bin?

Contamination must be removed and disposed of correctly. Either put the items into the correct bin or dispose of the entire contents of your bin at Slyfield.

We will not return to empty your bin once the contaminants have been removed. Please present your bin on the next collection day. It will be emptied if all contaminates have been removed.

How do I know what contaminated by bin?

Take a look at our what goes in my bins page for a list of what can and cannot go into your recycling bin. Alternatively, please contact us and we can send you a recycling guidance booklet.

Please check back frequently to stay up to date about what can be recycled in Guildford Borough.

Why is contamination a problem?

The recycling that is collected from your property is currently sent to a materials recovery facility (MRF) for sorting before being transported to be reprocessed and made into new products.

High levels of contamination can result in slower processing times for recycling to be sorted; less recycling available for reprocessing; lower quality material available for reprocessing; and damage to the sorting machinery.

If the recycling we collect is poor quality, the whole truck load could be sent to landfill. This is more expensive for council tax payers and bad for the environment.