Kirklees Council is at the top of the blacklist in its efforts to be green.

New Government figures show the authority has the worst recycling record in the country.

The council has the highest green bin contamination rate in England with 14.99% of its recyclable waste rejected in 2014-15. The national average was 3%.

Overall, the amount of household rubbish being rejected for recycling in England has increased by 84% over the past four years. Councils were unable to recycle 338,000 tons of waste in 2014-15, up from about 184,000 tons in 2011-12.

Despite this, Department for Environment data shows total recycled waste rose from 10.7m to 11m tons a year in the same period.

Kirklees Council said a substantial quantity of its recyclable waste had been taken to a different plant from usual “which has a low tolerance for contamination, and meant that an entire load of waste could be rejected” when only a small portion of the load should have been thrown out.

Amount of waste not recycled


Amount of waste not recycled (in tonnes) 2014-15

Department for Environment

The cost to local authorities of re-sorting so-called contaminated recycle bins is said to be the primary reason the vast majority of waste for recycling is being rejected.

Clr Andrew Cooper, leader of the Green Party in Kirklees, blamed mixed waste recycling in Kirklees. He said some other councils separated waste, rather than just having one green bin like Kirklees. They gave out boxes for card and paper, for example, and containers for garden waste.

“Kirklees has also cut the funding for awareness and support about recycling and this has impacted on what people put in their bins. The more people are shown what can and can’t be recycled, the better recycling contents we get in our bins,” he said.

“At the back of all this is the fact that Government funding cuts to northern authorities were greater than those in the south.”

Clr Cooper said the contract with waste recycling company Sita UK was coming up for renewal soon, and that would be the opportunity to get a better deal for recycling and better services for local residents.

Green Clr, Andrew Cooper.

He said he believed they should work with other West Yorkshire authorities, such as Calderdale, which had a better recycling rate than Kirklees.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “In the past decade, councils and residents have worked together to radically increase recycling and divert millions of tonnes of waste from landfill.

“The problem is there is widespread confusion over what can and cannot be recycled. If just one non-recyclable item is included with recyclable items, the whole bin is effectively contaminated. Councils then have to re-sort it, which is time-consuming and very expensive.

Kirklees Household Waste Recycling Centre, Emerald St, Hillhouse, Huddersfield.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to waste collection. What works in an inner city suburb won’t necessarily work in the countryside. The types which would suit a large detached house in the country would be completely unsuitable for a high-rise block of flats in inner-city London and vice versa.”

Waste reduction charity Wrap says contamination could be reduced by promoting greater consistency across the country about what can be collected. There are thought to be about 300 different recycling schemes in operation across England.

It says it is working with the government and industry to devise “a consistent set of guidelines nationally.”