COUNCIL bosses have apologised over teething problems with new refuse collections which have left dozens of recycling bins unemptied and householders angry.

Last week, Blackburn with Darwen Council left many people with full grey bins after spotting items that should not be in there, meaning they would have to wait another three weeks for their recycling to be collected.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Many of the bins were slapped with ‘contaminated’ stickers, but some residents said the council was nit-picking and the failure to empty their recycling would only result in more fly-tipping and stop people trying to separate their waste.

Residents in Darwen and Blackburn took to social media to express their indignation with some demanding the refuse workers return to empty their bins before the waste became unmanageable.

Recycling was changed in the borough in July, with a new blue bin for clean paper and card brought in. Paper and card used to go in the grey bin.

This means residents now have four bins, all of which are collected on different days and times – a burgundy bin for general waste, a blue bin for clean paper and card, a grey bin for plastics and glass, and a brown bin for compost or garden waste.

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The council has acknowledged people’s frustrations but said people needed to educate themselves on what can go in which bin.

Bosses said any recycling loads contaminated with non-recyclable waste meant the whole lot had to go landfill.

Tiger Patel, from Audley, created a video asking the council to step in and on Thursday afternoon waste collectors did return to his area to rectify the problem.

He said: “People are fed up, after four weeks they are coming here and they don’t pick up the bins. So councillors, come here please and sort out this issue.”

In response, councillors Salim Sidat and Maryam Batan also recorded a video, detailing the reasons why some bins had been left unemptied and explaining to residents the rules around recycling.

Cllr Batan said: “We know everyone is upset about the bins not being collected so we’ve come to give you some education.

“The council tax money that we collect only covers a fifth of what we actually spend in the borough.

“We need to work collectively to get recycling correct so that the council can save £70,000 a month.”

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Going through one person’s grey bin (for plastics and glass) she found paper, wrappers, Costa Coffee cups, leaflets, cardboard, wood and crisp packets.

The confusion the shake-up has created has led to some councillors and residents to ask for a review and return to a simplified way of disposing of rubbish.

At the executive board meeting on Thursday evening, leader of the Conservative group, Councillor John Slater asked how many bin wagons in the last five years had been refused because they had been contaminated.

Environment boss Cllr Jim Smith said at one stage it was around 40 tonnes a week, which is why the council decided to introduce the blue bins, to lower the amount of contamination and increase their recycling rate in line with government targets.

Cllr Smith said: “Contaminated waste goes to the Suez site, empties off, cannot be used as recycling and then has to go to landfill so you end up paying twice for it and there lies the real issue.

“It will go far, far lower over the next two months now that we have different streams.”

And asked if the council would consider going back to a weekly collection, Cllr Smith said: “We are not. We are doing it this way and it will be fine.”

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Earlier this week Cllr Smith said people sorting their recycling had to use common sense and that it 'wasn't rocket science'.

The council apologised for not emptying bins but said people needed to read the information about what items could go in what bin.

Their statement read: “Sorry. We haven’t been able to empty some of your recycling bins this week.

“We know it can be frustrating for residents – especially those who really are trying their best.

“If they haven’t been emptied, it often means they contain items which shouldn’t be inside.

“When a bin is ‘contaminated’ it cannot be emptied as the places which take our recycling just won’t accept it.

“Even if only a very small number of bins contain the wrong things, then it risks the whole bin lorry full being rejected and all of the recycling being sent to landfill.

“We know recycling can be confusing – it’s the same right across the country.

"But, with some of the lowest rates across the UK, we really have to try to do more.

“The new blue bin system for clean cardboard and paper has been used in other places and has worked really well.

"In fact, we were one of the last councils to still collect recycling all mixed together.

“That meant very few places now accept it - making it really expensive.

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“If your bin has not been emptied and you’re confused as to why it’s been classed as contaminated, you can email a picture to

“Remember, we also sent a helpful guide with your new bin collection calendar, there’s a new sticker on your grey bin.”

To dispel any confusion, the council have told residents to place any items they are uncertain of in their burgundy bins.

These include: sweet wrappers, crisp packets, bread bags and carrier bags, and also greasy pizza boxes.