Kirklees Council is set to get tough with people who repeatedly contaminate green recycling bins.

The council has tried a ‘softly softly’ approach through education but whole wagon loads are still having to be dumped in landfill when contamination is found.

People are still putting waste food and dirty nappies into green bins meaning a whole truckload of recycling is lost.

Kirklees has a poor recycling rate – around 26% compared to the national average of 43% – and the cost of dumping the extra waste is hitting the council hard at a time its finances are under severe pressure.

The frustrations of councillors and officers became clear at a meeting of the council’s Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Panel at Huddersfield Town Hall.

The meeting was told that it was costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to divert recycling to landfill and that was “just not sustainable.”

Graham West, the council’s service director for highways and streetscene, said: “What we face, similar to many local authorities, is the culture and behaviour of people.

“It’s a call to arms that we want people to recycle in an educated and managed way but if facilities are being provided that are being abused and at a point having re-visited, educated, discussed, informed and warned, then we have no other option than to remove the opportunity for those people to recycle.

“That sounds very aggressive in its approach but this authority cannot continue to divert loads that should go for recycling into areas that costs us significantly more. And I will throw a figure in the air. We are now on the cusp of a projected £400,000 to £450,000 where we divert loads that should be recycled. That’s just not sustainable at this time.

“We will continue with our education at school level and education for those people who have facilities but when we get to a point whereby we can no longer sustain that we will look at removing recycling facilities for those who fail to use it appropriately.”

Will Acornley, head of operational services, said people had had a difficult last two or three years due to Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, and the council had tried to better understand the issues that people were having with recycling.

Officers had been visiting problem areas in the days before a collection was due to help with education.

He added: “Ultimately we want everybody to take part in recycling rather than go ahead with draconian measures.”

Panel chairman Clr Will Simpson (Lab, Denby Dale) said: “We know that the vast majority of the contamination is from nappies and food. We do a lot of education work when people put something in their green bin that shouldn’t be there and the people get multiple friendly visits.

“But there are repeat issues at a number of places and it should be fairly clear to anyone that a used nappy is not something we are going to recycle in our green bins.

“When it comes as an impact on our recycling rates and comes at a massive financial cost we should be taking more stricter action.”