Get the gremlins out of your recycling

Published: Wednesday 26th November 14

Around 15,000 local homes are getting a visit this month as part of a campaign to help people recycle properly.

Gremlins include food waste, textiles and shredded paper

Recycling advisors will give clear guidance and advice on what can, and cannot, be put in with your recycling, and what ‘gremlins’ need to be put in with your general rubbish, such as textiles, plastic film from food containers, food waste and electrical items.

As well as giving advice, they will be asking people what stops them from recycling more, so that these so-called ‘barriers’ to recycling can be tackled.

The advisors, from a specialist company called Enventure, will be visiting homes that use orange-lidded bins, such as those on estates and in blocks of flats. They will carry ID and letters of authority from the council. The scheme is being funded by the Western Riverside Waste Authority.

Orange-lidded banks tend to have more ‘gremlins’ put in them than the clear sacks used by other households. On rare occasions, when there are too many, an entire lorry load of mixed recycling has to be disposed of at the energy-from-waste plant at Belvedere, Kent instead of being recycled.

The council’s environment spokesman Jonathan Cook said:

“This door-knocking campaign is part of our continuing efforts to help people recycle. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for our council tax payers - every extra tonne recycled saves £118 and every tonne of waste avoided saves £143.

“We want to encourage our residents to recycle more, so we’re giving out as much information as possible on what can go in recycling banks and bags, and what gremlins should be avoided. Most people recycle, but we want to further refine the service we offer by finding out what the barriers to recycling are and how we can help residents overcome them.”

The only things that should be put in recycling sacks or banks are clean and dry:  

  • Paper and card/cardboard (excluding shredded paper)
  • Glass bottles and jars (no broken glass in clear sacks, please)
  • Plastic bottles, pots tubs and trays
  • Cans, tins and empty aerosols
  • Food/drinks cartons (e.g. TetraPaks)

Food residue should be rinsed off before recycling and all lids should be removed as otherwise they could end up in the sorted glass, causing problems for the companies trying to recycle it back into bottles and jars.  

Free textile collections from your door are now available from the charity Traid, most plastic films can now be recycled at local supermarkets along with carrier bags, and the public can recycle electrical items at Smugglers Way.

Food waste can be composted, preferably in enclosed containers mounted on metal mesh such as chicken wire so that worms can get in, but scavenging animals cannot.

For everything you ever wanted to know about recycling and reducing waste in Wandsworth see

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Recent comments

Plastic packaging trays can be included but plastic packaging films can’t, so please try to remove all the film before recycling them. If there’s still significant amounts of film left on the tray even after your best efforts to remove it, please put the tray with your general rubbish. Recycling is not compulsory and residents are still entitled to put things like paper, glass and cans in with their general rubbish if they so choose, but if you confirm the address in question by email to we could arrange a delivery of recycling sacks and leaflets in an effort to prompt your neighbours to start recycling. Thanks for your recycling efforts - The Recycling Team

2 December 2014

1. It's really hard these days to remove the film from meat packaging. If there is a bit left on, should I put the meat tray in the bin or in the recycling? 2. Can we get the Council to write to neighbours about their recycling? My neighbours throw recycling into their bins, loose !, and put all sorts of non-recyclable things in their orange sacks. The property is let and the tenants change quite often. I don't want to be known as the bin police, but hate to see the mess. What do you advise?
Margaret Escombe

29 November 2014