If Bradford’s recycling system wasn’t so fussy, they wouldn’t need to promote ‘overlooked’ recyclable items.

On one hand it’s a good thing the Council is promoting recycling more, in an attempt to boost recycling figures. It makes sense for the environment and also economically, as it reduces the amount of tax we pay for sending stuff to landfill.

On the other hand I can’t help but feel that part of the reason the Council feel the need to promote their ‘overlooked’ recyclables more is because of the complexity of the recycling system we have in Bradford, the likes of which I’ve not seen in other areas.

For instance, it used to be that you couldn’t recycle envelopes with ‘windows’ in them, but now you can. However, you still can’t recycle brown envelopes because of the type of gum used. So what envelopes do the council use? Brown!

Similarly, you can recycle thin grey cardboard, like on frozen pizza boxes, but not any other type of cardboard. The thing is it was only in the last year or so that the council actually advertised this, I was told by my councillor that you could recycle thin white card over two years ago, but it wasn’t on any literature.

Finally, I only found out I could recycle aerosol cans when I got a letter from the bin men saying people in the area were recycling the wrong items and included a list of recyclable items. Again it hadn’t been on any literature I had received, and I say that as a keen recycler who looks out for these sorts of things. What chance does a harried parent have who is busy with other things?

I appreciate two things the council has to deal with:

  1. Introducing more items over time that can be recycled leads to some people inevitably not knowing what can be recycled.
  2. Making recycling cost-effective is difficult and sometimes if the answer is a more fiddly recycling system then so be it.

The problem is that the things under their control have not been handled properly.

They shouldn’t be sending out things in brown envelopes when they can’t be recycled. They haven’t previously advertised properly what can and cannot be recycled, and as such people are clearly not recycling enough.

Of course they are taking steps to rectify this, and that is good, but I don’t understand why it’s taken them so long when it was obvious within months of me moving to Shipley that the system was confusing and it wasn’t clear what could be recycled and why.

What I don’t understand is why a neighbouring council such as Leeds can recycle all envelopes and cardboard and Bradford cannot. I cannot believe the Council have not looked in to it at any point, but the information is not freely available as far as I can make out.

Putting past feasibility studies online and making it available would be a good step to opening up information to the public and helping people understand why the council makes the decisions it does (or does not as the case may be).

5 thoughts on “If Bradford’s recycling system wasn’t so fussy, they wouldn’t need to promote ‘overlooked’ recyclable items.

  1. If this comment is deleted so be it but I hope you read and take note first.
    Although on the whole you are right, there a few points where you have been misinformed

    Recycling is complicated, Bradford Council are trying to keep it as simple as possible.

    Brown card/paper etc…
    Brown paper and card items can be recycled and almost all of it already has been. The paper fibres are of a lower quality and cannot be cleaned or bleached to be used as white paper.
    Bradford Councils paper is recycled back into newspapers so brown fibres cannot be used. There are no longer problems with any gum or windows.

    So… any paper except brown.
    Any card except brown.
    Corrugated card is nearly always brown so to keep it simple Bradford council says ‘no thank you’.

    Some councils such as Leeds have a commingled collection, this is where their selected recyclets are collected together in one bin (simple) and then mechanically/hand sorted elsewhere.
    The problem with this is they end up with huge amounts of contaminants being placed in these bins.
    Although they can collect a wider variety of materials they are often recycled at a lower quality.

    It is also worth pointing out that due to the commingled collection being part hand sorted, residents in Leeds have to take their heavy glass to bring sites/HWRC.
    I personally would rather take my brown card and plastic bottles (much lighter) and have my glass collected from my kerb.

    As I mention earlier, brown envelopes already have been recycled so are much cheaper than white (which is usually straight from a tree). The brown ones can be taken to a HWRC (tip to you and I) and recycled from there.

    It seems that chinese whispers has done a lot of harm to Bradfords chances of a descent recycling rate!

    I hope you find this information useful and that you can use it help other Bradford residents to do their best.

    • Thanks for posting! Unless a post shows me to be a complete fool then I wouldn’t want to ban any post really.

      Thanks for the information, it’s really useful. That’s an interesting point about the colour of card and paper. I would say that I checked the councils own recycling booklet yesterday as I was paranoid about toilet rolls being recyclable or not, and it said any thin white or grey card – but then mentions corrugated but not normal thin brown card (which you do get).

      Should I take it from this that toilet rolls, kitchen towel rolls, any brown card used as, say, a frozen pizza box, cannot be recycled?

      You see, with the envelope issue, even if the brown ones are already recycled, I’d still encourage the council to use recycled white paper envelopes and then people can recycle them.

      I do remember a conversation with a council worker where we discussed the similarity in recycling rates between Leeds and Bradford despite the wider variety of recyclables in Leeds.

      My own personal preference would probably be to take glass to a bank, and have kerbside plastics, as they’re so bulky. Though I take your point about them being lighter!

      I agree about Chinese whispers hampering recycling, though ultimately the Council need to take some of the responsibility for the confusion that presumably is out there.

      Thanks again for the post!:)

  2. Bit more for you…

    For many years Bradford Council have tried to keep all information simple, this has caused a lot of useful information being kept from the public to try and stop confusion.
    In my opinion this has caused more.

    Toilet rolls are a tough call and it depends on if you would consider them grey or brown. If you really can’t decide don’t put it in. If you have a bit of garden space you could invest in a compost bin (or easily make your own from an old dustbin), most card cardboard and paper can be composted which is far better than transporting it elsewhere to be recycled.
    Personally my toilet rolls go in the recycling bin but I consider mine to be grey.

    Back to plastic…
    At the moment each area usually is serviced by three refuse vehicles, one for Residual waste (general waste) one for paper glass and cans (split into two compartments) and a third for garden waste.
    Bradford has tested various collection methods and have tried collecting plastic bottles with the other recyclables. The problem is that it has contaminated those other recyclables. So as it stands at the moment it would have to be collected by a separate vehicle.
    If you add up the cost of the vehicle and the wages for the staff you come to a very hefty sum. So until funding is provided I don’t think much will change.

    Kitchen waste would be a far better spend of that money, on average about 40% (weight) of Bradford’s residual waste is kitchen waste or compostable.
    Plastic makes up about 2%. I know where I’d spend my money.

    Hope this helps again.

    P.S. I am in no way a spokesperson for Bradford Council.

  3. Lol, cheers ‘Ann’. No way a spokesperson for Bradford Council eh? You seem to know an awful lot about them…😉

    Actually I know what you mean about kitchen waste vs. plastics. As you get paid by weight, plastics is a very awkward one to make economically viable.

    How do you think it could work if instead of kerbside you just provided plastic recycling at bring sites across the region? In my opinion this should be the case for all cardboard.

  4. Thats the best bet, ‘they’ have plastic banks at all the household waste recycling centres (HWRC or ‘tips’) and at most large supermakets. Cardboard is only at the HWRC but it would be great to have them more widespread.

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