Red hanger on a green recycling bin in Portsmouth to signal contamination or non-recyclable items in the green bin.
A new policy for recycling bins will come into effect from 1 September, as part of Portsmouth City Council's ongoing commitment to promote responsible recycling practices and ensure a cleaner and greener community.

Incorrect items in the recycling bin are called contamination. Contamination cannot be recycled at the local recycling facility and are expensive to remove.

The policy aims to inform residents about how to get recycling right in Portsmouth. It will be implemented through a three-stage process:

  1. Red hanger: When contamination is identified in a recycling bin, the bin will not be emptied, and residents will receive a red hanger on their green recycling bin as a first step.
  2. Telephone call with the recycling and rubbish team: Residents are encouraged to reach out to the dedicated team if unsure about what the issue is.
  3. A visit by a waste management officer (WMO): A WMO will visit the property to provide personalised guidance and address the issue. Following the visit, the bin will be emptied as a goodwill gesture. Please note that bins will only be emptied if contaminated with household waste. Contamination with non-household waste, such as construction waste, will not be emptied by the council.

If it happens again after the first occurrence, residents will have three options:

  1. Remove the offending item from the bin: Residents can choose to remove non-recyclable materials from their green recycling bin themselves. Once de-contaminated, the bin will be collected on the next scheduled collection date.
  2. Take the contaminated waste to the household waste recycling centre (HWRC): Residents can take the contaminated waste to the HWRC or tip in Port Solent – don’t forget to book a slot first.
  3. Request the council to empty the contaminated bin as rubbish: Residents can choose to have the contaminated bin emptied as rubbish, but a call-out charge will apply for this service.

Portsmouth City Council remains dedicated to fostering a culture of responsible recycling. The policy is intended to encourage proper recycling practices and minimise contamination.

In 2022, one in five items collected in the recycling bin was not recyclable in Portsmouth.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services at the council, said:

“It’s important we get recycling right. The wrong things being put into our green bins end up costing the council a lot of money through having to sort items and correctly dispose of them, and that has a knock-on effect on the council’s overall budget, which can be used on other services.

“We are working with Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council to develop a new materials recovery facility (MRF). This facility will enable residents to recycle more items in their recycling bin at home, including plastic pots, tubs and trays, cartons, glass, and eventually, plastic film. We expect the new facility to be up and running in mid-2025.

“Until then, we hope this tweak to our recycling policy will encourage better recycling in Portsmouth. As for any charges, this will be up to the resident – they have the options to either remove the wrong items themselves, or take it to the tip if they want.

“We thank residents for their efforts in getting recycling right, as we work together to create a cleaner, greener Portsmouth.”

In Portsmouth, the following five materials can be put in the in the green recycling bin at home:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bottles (rinse and put the lid back on)
  • Tins and cans
  • Aerosols

The council also launched a new online checker when unsure which bin to use for some materials. Just enter the material or name of the items to check which bin to put it in. Mixed plastics recycling banks have also been installed across the city for residents who are trying hard to do their part for a greener city. For more information, the online checker and locations of the recycling banks, see www.portsmouth.gov.uk/recycling

Anyone with any questions can contact the recycling and rubbish team: email recyclingandrubbish@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9284 1105

Portsmouth City Council is actively investing in making Portsmouth a cleaner and greener place to live. Get the latest news on the topics that are of interest by signing up to My Portsmouth Updates – whether it’s to stay informed about waste and recycling, the council’s plans to tackle climate change, events in the city or to learn more about sustainable travel, and more: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/updates