Town Hall set to start charging landlords for contaminated recycling bins

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Citizen

Islington Council are set to begin charging landlords of properties with communal recycling bins if they are found to be contaminated with non-recyclable items.

Under plans to be voted on by leading councillors next week, after any communal bin was found to be contaminated, a managing agent or landlord would be subject to a £47.14 charge and their bin would not be emptied.

If the occupier failed to pay the fee, the contaminated bin would remain unemptied, or alternatively the landlord would be invited to remove contaminated material themselves, with the bin to be emptied as normal on the next collection.

Explaining why the charge is being proposed, environment and transport chief Cllr Rowena Champion said: “A separate refuse crew is required to return to the sites [with contaminated bins] to empty the bins; this is at additional cost to the council and also incurs increased disposal costs.

“Additionally, North London Waste Authority (NLWA) are reviewing their charging process for managing contaminated recycling meaning that it will be in Islington’s interests to ensure that the costs of dealing with this are recovered by the authority. 

“There is a time lag in the crew reporting the bin and the second crew clearing the bin leading to full to overflowing bins remaining on site and potentially generating complaints. Good quality recycling that is in the bin will be disposed of as waste due to the extent of the contaminated waste. 

“It is anticipated that a charge will encourage managing agents and landlords to work with us to proactively engage with their residents to raise awareness of recycling and to reduce levels of contamination. Benchmarking has identified that other local authorities are making a charge for the collection of communal contaminated waste. The average charge per bin is £38.75.”

The charge is understood to not apply to any properties using green recycling boxes or clear recycling sacks, with contamination in these instances being less frequent or impactful, as non-recyclable material in these cases is simply left where it is for householders to clear themselves.

Under the plans, which following next week’s vote will be implemented “as soon as is practicable”,  if a landlord were to fail to pay for or remove the contamination within a timely period, a community protection notice (CPN) would be served on them to ensure compliance and prevent the bin becoming a nuisance. 

Communal bins are provided by both private and social landlords, as well as at council housing itself, with contaminated bins with non-recyclable waste currently emptied at no charge and to the cost of the Town Hall. 

According to council statistics, 60 recycling sites are reported by crews monthly as having contaminated bins, with the Town Hall hoping that with 125 bins per month turning up contaminated, the new policy could generate £70,710 per year for the council, though if it is successful in driving non-recyclable waste down, this revenue would reduce over time.

A parallel charge for damaged large waste bins has also been worked up to remove the cost of collecting and sending these for repair from the council.

Champion’s report on the issue added: “The Recycling Team will continue to proactively communicate with households at locations with contaminated bins to improve the quality of recycling and reduce contamination. 

“However, we expect the charge to incentivise landlords to take their own actions to reduce contamination. A range of resources will be made available to landlords to support them in engaging with their own residents to drive down levels of contamination at the properties they manage.”