New Look Clear Recycling Bags From April

Making it easier to spot unrecyclable contents


Items that can be recycled

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New clear recycling bags will be delivered to borough homes from April.

The bags will be bigger and stronger and the council hopes they will encourage better recycling.

Clear bags make it easier for recycling crews to spot bags with the wrong things in them. They can then dispose of them with general rubbish. They also encourage people to recycle responsibly because if neighbours can see what's inside, householders are less likely to put the wrong things in sacks.

In the past the council's had a problem with people putting everything from dirty nappies to dead pets in recycling bags.

Putting general rubbish in recycling sacks and banks means that the recycling load is 'contaminated'. This is costly because the council has to pay twice for contaminated loads - once at the sorting plant and again for the contaminants to be incinerated at the energy-from-waste plant.

If the levels of contamination get too high, the whole load can be rejected from the sorting process, including the items inside that are recyclable.

The main contaminants are food waste, unrecyclable plastic bags and toys, cling film and shrink wrap, clothes and textiles, shredded paper and electrical items.

Carrier bags, shrink wrap and clingfilm can now all be recycled at large supermarkets. Most food waste can be composted - see Find out how to use less food at Clothes can go to local charity shops or textile banks, and electrical equipment can be recycled at the Household Waste Recycling centre in Smugglers Way. Get information about other items at

Currently, around 17 per cent of the contents of the orange sacks Wandsworth sends to Smugglers Way are contaminants, and almost a quarter of the contents of orange-lidded banks are non-recyclable items.

The new bags will be delivered between April and June. Only people that currently receive the orange bag kerbside collection service will be affected. People living in flats that use orange-lidded recycling banks will notice no change.

The changes affect all four boroughs that use the Western Riverside Waste Authority recycling plant in Smugglers Way - including Wandsworth.

Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Jonathan Cook, said: "The experience of others councils show that the introduction of clear sacks is an effective way of encouraging people to recycle properly. It's vital that we reduce the level of contamination in our recycling because it's costing council tax payers thousands of pounds a year in extra disposal costs.

"The people of Wandsworth have made fantastic progress over the past few years to reduce the amount of rubbish they produce, and to recycle more, but we would urge them to redouble their efforts and think carefully about what they're putting in recycling sacks. That way we can further drive down costs and make the system as efficient as possible"

The only things that should be recycled in orange bags or banks are:

  • Paper and card/cardboard (excluding shredded paper)
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic bottles, pots tubs and trays
  • Cans, tins and empty aerosols
  • Food/drinks cartons (e.g. TetraPaks)

These should all be clean and dry. Get full details at

Households will get a delivery of three rolls of 30 clear sacks each year. You can also use up any left-over orange sacks. If you run out before your next delivery, you can order them


By email:

By phone: (020) 8871 7497


March 20, 2013