Residents don't recycle food because it is "smelly and dirty", survey finds

Date published: 16 August 2019

Local residents don’t always recycle their food as they feel it is smelly, unhygienic or dirty, a consultation carried out by Rochdale Borough Council has found.

The council launched its public consultation on food waste in June, finding that 14% of respondents didn’t always recycle their food waste for this reason, with 10% admitted to using the wrong bin all of the time for their food waste.

However, 96% of residents surveyed felt that they understood clearly what should go in the food and garden waste bins - despite a number of residents admitting to using both the general waste bin and the food waste bin for their food waste.

The consultation was launched to find out why residents might not be using their brown food and garden waste bins, as recent analysis shows around 20% of rubbish collected in Rochdale’s dark green bins is food waste.

Since 2015, the majority of borough residents have been able to recycle their food waste weekly by presenting their brown bin or street caddy for collection – but only 40% do so.


Captain Carrot - a character to encourage residents to become a 'food hero' and recycle their food waste correctly
Captain Carrot - a character to encourage residents to become a 'food hero' and recycle their food waste correctly


Food waste is heavy, and the council says that it costs a third more to collect in the dark green general waste bin than it does to recycle in a brown bin. It’s also better for the environment to recycle food and garden waste as it is turned into compost.

Just over half of respondents (51%) bin food that is out of date averaging one to three plates worth of food a week, and most said they throw away food because it is inedible, such as teabags or banana skins.

At least 25% of waste collected from all household bins across the borough is unused or leftover food.

560 responses were received and based on the survey results, the council is now launching a ‘nudge campaign’ to encourage residents to always dispose of their food waste correctly – becoming a ‘food hero’ in the process.

A spokesperson for the council said: “On the back of this data, we are creating a ‘nudge campaign’ to encourage those residents who sometimes use the wrong bin for their food waste to do the right thing.

“It will also reinforce the benefits to those who do already recycle their food waste and will ask those who do not use the recycling bin at all to think again.”

A group of six characters have been created as the faces of the campaign, with residents being introduced to them through bin stickers, which will be distributed from Monday 19 August.

This will be followed by a social media and web campaign.

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online