A fifth of all bins studied through Waterford City Council’s latest round of random bin inspection surveys have been found to be contaminated.

Aiming to improve the separation of waste which is presented for brown bin collection, council inspectors discovered 24 negative results from the 120 bins sampled.

“The most common contaminant in the brown bins is ashes, followed by cans and plastics”, said Ella Ryan, the Council’s Environmental Awareness Officer.

“Ashes can not be composted through your brown bins and must be put directly into the grey bin. Plastic bags and wrappers should also be put into the grey bin, as they can not be composted or recycled.”

She added: “If put into the brown bin, these plastics become torn and spread throughout the entire load; this makes it almost impossible to remove from the compost. However cans and plastic bottles can be recycled and so should be put into the green bin.”

While conceding that mistakes can happen, Ms Ryan said that several brown bins had clearly been filled with household refuse, including doormats and bags of mixed waste.

“In cases where it is possible that the bin is being misused or deliberately contaminated, that bin will be checked on a regular basis until it is found to only contain compostable materials,” she said.

“Although the vast majority of people make the effort to use their green and brown bins properly, we would ask that everyone be aware of the problems that can be caused by putting the wrong type of waste in the green or brown bins.

“We take contamination seriously and hope to improve the quality of material being presented in the brown bins by carrying out these surveys.”