Hartlepool firm reports huge drop in carrier bag recycling

Mark Penny at J&B Recycling.
Mark Penny at J&B Recycling.

A Hartlepool recycling firm has noticed a 50 per cent drop in carrier bags coming through its sorting plants.

The introduction of a tax on carrier bags has had an instant impact on recycling rates , with people now more conscious of reusing their old bags rather than having to pay for new ones.

Prior to the introduction of the charge, we used to recover 25 tonnes of carrier bags each week which would be baled up and sent for recycling. We have noticed an immediate drop, and we are now dealing with between 10 and 12 tonnes per week.

Mark Penny, commercial manager at J&B Recycling

Ministers claimed the introduction of the 5p charge would stop shoppers from using as many bags, and at the same time encouraging them to re-use old ones.

Shoppers have been charged for using carrier bags since October 5, when the new legislation came into force. Now the team at J&B Recycling has noticed a 50 per cent drop in the amount of carrier bags coming through its sorting plants.

Mark Penny, commercial manager at J&B Recycling, said: “Prior to the introduction of the charge, we used to recover 25 tonnes of carrier bags each week, which would be baled up and sent for recycling.

“We have noticed an immediate drop, and we are now dealing with between 10 and 12 tonnes per week.

“People would collect their kerbside recyclables in carrier bags or put just carrier bags themselves in the bins to be collected.

“Some full bags however often contained contaminated recyclables or waste, whether it be accidental or indeed in some cases deliberate, especially food and bathroom waste.

“We would then have to sort that carrier bag from the rest of the material or waste and recycle it accordingly.”

Mr Penny added: “What we are finding now is that less people are putting their recycling in carrier bags or throwing them away and there is now more loose unbagged recyclables instead, making it easier and safer for us to sort.

“Some are using bin liners instead but more often than not the contents of those are contaminated or hidden waste especially the tied ones.

“I think the fact the number of carrier bags coming through the system has dropped by over 50 per cent demonstrates just how much of an impact the decision to charge a fee has had.”

J&B Recycling employs almost 200 staff.