Recycle smart to ensure your bins is collected

recyclewheelAshford Borough Council’s recycling service is certainly one to be proud of. The service has seen the borough quadruple its recycling performance, become the country’s most improved recycling authority, and been shortlisted for two categories in the 2015 National Recycling Awards.

You may remember the yellow ‘Warning’ stickers Biffa issued last year which indicated any incorrect items placed in the bin, and warned if they were found again the bin would not be collected. Following the crackdown, residents made an excellent effort to improve their recycling habits. However, recently standards have unfortunately slipped and we have seen a significant amount of unrecyclable materials being placed in recycling bins which has resulted in some waste loads being rejected.

Once again we are cracking down on contamination by encouraging residents to recycle smart to ensure their bins are collected. We are working closely with Biffa to ensure that the recycling collected is of the highest quality, but we need our residents to help us achieve this. Biffa staff will now be checking what is being placed in recycling bins to try and ensure that the loads collected are clean and can be recycled.

If Biffa find an unrecyclable item in your recycling bin, unfortunately the crew will not collect it for that week. We advise you to take your waste to the KCC Household Recycling Centre for disposal instead. Your recycling bin will be collected upon your next recycling collection, provided the correct items are present.

Our contractors will be looking out for items which we frequently see incorrectly placed in our recycling loads such as carrier bags, dark plastic food trays, sanitary waste and garden items. Here’s a few top tips to remember:

  • Dark plastic food trays (from microwave meals for example), crisp packets and plastic/carrier bags are not recyclable – please place them in your grey refuse bin
  • Sanitary waste items such as nappies are not recyclable – please place them in your grey refuse bin
  • Food waste packaging should be emptied of its contents and rinsed before placing in your green recycling bin
  • Garden waste should be placed in your brown garden bin if you have one – not the green recycling bin, or take it to the KCC Household Recycling Centre. Alternatively, you can compost your garden trimmings at home with help from

Every waste load rejected at the recycling plant has a significant cost to both the local authority (as waste contractors) and the county council (as waste disposal). Did you know the cost for every truck load of waste rejected at the recycling plant is £14,000?

Any unrecyclable item has the potential to contaminate a whole load, which could represent as many as 500 households that have carefully separated the right materials for recycling.

We encourage residents to recycle as much as possible. Please place any additional clean recycling in a clear plastic bag and leave it out on recycling week ready for Biffa to collect. Any waste not in a clear plastic bag will not be collected. You can maximise space in your green recycling bin by flattening cardboard boxes and plastic bottles.

Please check that your bin lids are closed completely on collection day. Bin straps can be a useful way to secure your bin lid down but please ensure they are removed before your collection day. Your bin will not be collected if the lid has been strapped down; this is for the health and safety of the Biffa crew.

We understand mistakes can happen which is why we are also encouraging residents to use the new ‘Wheel of Waste tool’ –  simply twist the wheel to reveal which bin common household waste items should be placed in. Contact to request a free copy.

We also want to highlight to residents that although some products may carry a recycling symbol, they may be followed with “where facilities allow”. We need to make sure we are collecting recycling that can be recycled in our area. If you are unsure whether a particular item can be recycled, consult your Wheel of Waste or visit our website for more information.

For recycling tips and advice or to download your 2016/2017 recycling and refuse calendar, visit the Ashford Borough Council website via

Don’t forget you can also sign up to the optional, fortnightly garden recycling service online via the council website at The service runs from 1st June until 31st May 2017, Sign up to the fortnightly garden recycling service and pay a reduced rate until 1st June 2017. The annual fee for the service is £35 per year with 23 collections; this works out at just £1.52 per collection. Garden recycling allows you to dispose of your weeds, hedge trimmings, dead plants and grass cuttings in an easy and eco-friendly way.

Ashford Borough Council 27th October 2016–1482/


  1. Daniel

    Can any type of soft/flexible packaging be recycled? (I thought not)
    I thought all hard plastic can be recycled. Does it have to have the recycling symbol on it? If so I don’t think that has been made clear in the past. The black microwave plastic is news to me. I throw ANY hard plastic in the recycling. Can cleaning bottles ie jif be recycled? And how clean do the have to be inside?
    Many thanks,

    1. Bob Shrubb (Post author)

      Hi Daniel

      As part of a drive to improve the efficacy of its successful recycling programme, ABC brought the problem with dark plastic to the attention of residents last year with press releases, a social media campaign and circulars sent to households.

      The equipment used at the Materials Recycling Facility used by Ashford Borough Council and the Kent Resource Partnership cannot identify dark plastics; ABC therefore incur a penalty for dark plastics going through the system. We haven’t heard of a household recycling bin being rejected because it contains dark plastic.

      Cleaning fluid, bleach and cosmetics bottles can be recycled. Put a small amount of water into the container, put the lid on and give it a good shake (taking care that bleach bottles don’t leak), then empty the water from the bottle, before putting it in the recycling bin.

      Some sorting is carried out by hand so it is preferable to rinse food containers a bit more thoroughly, otherwise they become unpleasant to handle, but they don’t need to be spotless.

      At the moment no soft/flexible plastics can be recycled.


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