The dry mixed recyclable bins (generally green or blue) can take a range of materials including paper, cardboard, steel cans, aluminium cans, plastic bottles and selected other plastics. Light plastic bags, crisp bags, plastic food wrapping, etc, are sometimes prohibited from the recyclable bins as they cannot be economically recycled and they are difficult to mechanically separate from the paper fraction, which has a good market for recycling. Plastic bottles including light mineral bottles (PET) and heavier bottles (HDPE) are all acceptable, if clean and have a steady recycling market. Plastic tubs, pots and trays are also acceptable if they are washed and while these materials have little value, they are easier to separate from the paper, so our members make every effort to recycle them.
Glass has been accepted in the dry mixed recyclables bins in some parts of Ireland, but due to poor quality returns, the waste industry in agreement with the Department of the Environment and REPAK, has decided to exclude glass from the dry mixed recyclables bins. Some of our members collect glass at kerbside in a dedicated separate collection and this is expected to continue in those areas and possibly extend to other areas. Where there is no kerbside collection available, we encourage householders to use the extensive network of bottle banks around the country.
It is important that the dry mixed recyclable bins are not contaminated with other materials such as food, nappies, materials contaminated with oils, plastic bags, ashes, clothes, waste electrical equipment, batteries, etc. These contaminants can destroy good quality recyclables and add unnecessary costs to waste management as well as impact on Ireland’s environmental performance. Under new legislation, we expect that householders will be liable to fixed penalty notices in the near future for breaches of obligations to use the three bin system correctly. In the meantime, waste collectors can refuse to empty recyclable or food waste bins if they are contaminated with unacceptable materials.