Hundreds of tonnes of recyclable rubbish has been sent to landfill from Kingston’s public bins in recent years.

About a third of the 393 tonnes of waste dumped in public bins each year is made up of paper, glass, cans and plastic that can all be recycled.

The council tried setting up separate bins for recycling in 2005, but too many loads were contaminated with other rubbish, meaning they were often being sent to landfill anyway, and in 2016 the last of these bins was removed.

Now, following a commitment in its manifesto during the May elections, the Liberal Democrat administration wants to reintroduce this type of on-street recycling.

But following the failure of the previous bins, the option of sending all rubbish collected in normal public bins to a plant – to have it sorted and recyclable material dealt with properly – is being explored.

It was agreed to investigate this option at the council’s Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee meeting on November 28, and officers were given the green light to procure a contract – with details to come back to a future committee for discussion.

Councillors expressed concern about undoing the hard work and progress already made in increasing recycling rates in the borough.

Opposition leader, Councillor Kevin Davis, wondered whether it would confuse or annoy people who already sort their household rubbish, and therefore jeopardise the 50 per cent recycling rate the council has already achieved from domestic waste.

He said: “What I’m worried about is if we just take our existing bins and wrap them in this wrapper that says this is going to get recycled, the signal we are sending is that the council will sort it all out for you.”

Councillor Hilary Gander, who chaired the meeting, said administration councillors had similar qualms, and it was agreed that communication would be “key” – although she also said that a slight reduction in household recycling would still be balanced by the on-street rubbish being recycled, which currently does not happen at all.

The two options being explored are sending rubbish to a mixed waste processing (MWP) plant or to a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant.

Both methods involve sorting the rubbish to glean the recyclable material, then after MWP that material might be further processed or sold, whereas during MBT the recyclable material is broken down by micro-organisms.

You can find out more about the council’s recycling poliy at