During my time as a Zone Warden at Colchester Borough Council, I’ve been asked some unusual and intriguing questions – from “Can I still recycle paper if it’s crumpled into a ball?” (yes) to “I found a dead bird, can I put it in my food waste bin?” (no).
There’s nothing wrong with a curveball question – it keeps me sharp! It’s a bit different, though, when strange things start cropping up in recycling and rubbish containers.
At lunch on Wednesday, I was chatting to some of my colleagues in the collection crews. They told me about some rather peculiar items found in people’s sacks, bags and bins.
- A whole paving slab
- Live gun ammunition
- A bag containing four party balloons, still blown up
- Various knives
- A 4.5ltr bottle full of whisky
So there you have it – we collect waste and recycling from Zones 1 to 6, plus the Twilight Zone!
Obviously, some of these examples shouldn’t have been anywhere near the rubbish. The paving slab should have been taken to a local Recycling Centre, where clean building materials can be recycled as hardcore.
Live ammunition must be surrendered at a police station or to a registered firearms dealer.
Balloons aren’t usually recyclable, but are best deflated before being put in the black bag or bin – apart from anything else, you won’t have the shock of a sudden bang from your rubbish when they pop! Knives should be wrapped in newspaper and placed in your general waste, while unwanted liquid should be poured out of bottles before they are recycled.
As well as things that don’t belong in the collection, there are some surprising items that are recyclable.
- Bones and shells – Food waste
- Clean kitchen and toilet roll – Paper
- Cigarette packets (with foil removed) – Paper
- Aerosol cans – Green box
- Biscuit and baby milk tins – Green box
- Worn-out white garden sacks – Clear bag for plastics
- Plastic cereal liners – Clear bag for plastics
- Bedding from non-meat-eating animals – Garden waste
The Council’s website has a list of recyclable materials. If you have something unusual and aren’t sure whether it could be recycled or reused, check out Recycle This – it’s one of my favourite websites and is full of ingenious ideas!
If you’re still not sure where your unwanted item should go (or you’d like to test me!), leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help.