Householders in Hartlepool are set to be educated on how to recycle more effectively after contamination rates reached their highest ever level.
The amount of rubbish intended for recycling being rejected has topped 22% against a target of just 5%.
Hartlepool councillors heard how the authority is having to set aside more money to dispose of the waste, which instead has to go to landfill or be burned.
They said people need to be given more education about exactly what they can and cannot recycle and there has to be more enforcement to bring the contamination rate and costs down.
Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said part of the problem was down to refuse companies continuing to collect contaminated waste.
Ms Ogden said: “The contractor doesn’t have to collect anything over 5% contamination but for two years they have because the waste market has been able to sustain that level.
We are really keen we don’t just stop collecting bins but need to educate the public and look at enforcementDenise Ogden, Hartlepool Borough Council
“Now the people who get it at the end are saying they won’t take that level any more because of new directives.
“We are really keen we don’t just stop collecting bins but need to educate the public and look at enforcement.”
Alastair Smith, the department’s assistant director, said the town’s current contamination rate is the highest it has ever been.
Councillor Marjorie James, chairman of the Neighbourhood Services Committee, said any campaign should focus on young people who can help educate their families.
Coun James said: “The best educators in a household is still the children.
“In some cases the contamination is not vindictive, it is just people don’t know something shouldn’t go in.”
One example given of what not to put in the grey recycling bins was pizza and other takeaway boxes.
Despite being made out of cardboard, the grease left on them means they cannot be recycled.
Coun Peter Jackson added: “I think we do need that education drive again.”
Officers agreed to report back with various options for tackling the issue.