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Frequently asked questions about recycling and rubbish

Find out answers to the most common questions we get asked about recycling, bins, litter and flytipping.

Why do we have to separate recycling into different bags? Why can't we have one bag for all recycling?

In order to find recycling companies to take recycling, we have to ensure that the quality of the material is good. This is why we ask residents to use a green bag for paper/card, a green bag for cans/glass and a pink bag for plastic.  

Mixing all of these materials together can increase contamination levels which means less materials are recycled. Also, separating recycling put into one bag is a very expensive process.

Is recycling compulsory for a resident? 

Yes, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 enables the council to say what materials are or are not permitted in certain containers, including black bags. When these requirements are confirmed by the issuing of a notice, not complying with the notice can lead to a fine or prosecution, however this would only be used as a last resort for those refusing to recycle.

What happens if someone dumps black bags outside my property?

If this has happened then please report it to us. This act is classed as flytipping and the offender could face enforcement action.

Why can't Swansea have wheeled bins?

Due to the type of housing in Swansea and the topography of the land, only 30% of Swansea can have wheeled bins. So, instead of having two different collection methods, we only collect loose bags from households.

What happens to materials separated for recycling?

We do our best to find local markets for the material collected. For example, food waste goes to a company in Bridgend called Agrivert where the food waste is processed into electricity and compost. Paper is either turned into newspaper or card, glass is recycled into new glass products and aluminium is used in the steel making process. These are just some examples to show that recycling is a beneficial activity and the materials separated can be used to make new products. Steel cans can be recycled again and again, with no loss of quality.

Why don't you collect soft plastics?

Plastic recycling companies will no longer accept soft plastic items including carrier bags, film and wrappers from us. This is because many soft plastic items are not easily recycled and when they mixed with rigid items like bottles, tubs and trays they are extremely difficult to separate which is necessary to recycle them. 

Soft plastics should go in your black bags for kerbside collection. Certain 'stretchy' soft plastic items such as carrier bags and bread bags can still be recycled in the banks at large supermarkets if you are able to take them there.

Why do some litter bins or dog fouling bins get removed?

We provide a significant number of both litter bins and dog fouling bins throughout the area. These are emptied routinely based on their general use and officer knowledge. Litter bins in areas of high footfall such as the city centre and other shopping areas, for example, are emptied at least once a day.

Some bins have been misused by irresponsible 'persons unknown' filling them up with household/domestic/trade waste etc. When this occurs bins cease to be used as intended (ie for litter and dog fouling) and, in some instances, their continual emptying is not sustainable. We do not have the resource to continually empty bins of household/domestic/trade waste. 

Where bin misuse continues then we may decide to remove the bin (on a temporary basis in some cases) or relocate the bin in the nearby vicinity. Usually, this will only occur as a last resort following ongoing monitoring of the bin and the failure of the public to comply with our 'Litter Bin Only - No Household Waste - Use this Bin Properly or Lose it' notices that we attach to the litter bins prior to removal. 

We may decide to remove a dog bin for the reasons as stated above or in cases where there is evidence of continual misuse due to dog owners using the dog fouling bins as an alternative means to dispose of dog waste collected from their private home over a period of time. This practice is also considered misuse as dog fouling bins were never intended to be used in this way but for sporadic use by dog owners as and when required whilst walking their dog.    

Why doesn't the council "stake-out" misused bins and flytipping areas with enforcement officers or CCTV?

We do not have the resource/manpower to monitor every bin throughout the area 24/7. Invariably those responsible for bin misuse are aware that the practice is unacceptable and therefore go to great lengths to avoid detection. For example, it is suggested that they fill the bins late at night/early morning and alternate the bins they use to dispose of their household waste. The chances, therefore, of catching the culprits are extremely slim. 

However, local intelligence is important and if any member of the public has any information regarding bin misuse then they should be encouraged to report the matter by contacting Parks and Cleansing: parks.section@swansea.gov.uk / 01792 280210.

Whilst there is limited use of CCTV in certain instances, there are significant resource and legal implications which often are disproportionate to the benefit.    

Why do cleansing operatives carrying out litter picking carry a blue and a green bag?

We introduced a recycling initiative for our routine litter picking of roads, footways and other adopted areas including some council-owned beaches. Unless, extreme weather conditions dictate otherwise, we will collect all non-recyclable materials into a blue bag and any tins/cans, glass or soft plastic containers such as drinks/milk bottles into the green bag. 

This way, we contribute to increasing the council's overall recycling rates and reduce the amount of material sent to landfill.