TAKING bins from the city centre and removing words from signs to aid non-English speakers are among measures being considered to boost recycling.

The city's recycling rate hit the 50 per cent mark for the first time in August but the council's board member for environment John Tanner warned that could 'fall back' once a Government grant runs out next year.

The £350,000 grant has funded the city's Blue Bin Recycling League reward scheme, which has seen residents win hundreds of pounds since October 2015.

Students will also be targeted under the new measures and council staff could offer to collect waste at the end of a students' tenancy for a one-off fee.

Mr Tanner said: "We are now recycling half of the rubbish we throw way and the more we recycle the cheaper it is for the taxpayer ultimately - but we want to be doing more.

"The Government grants runs out next year and the city council continues to be short of funds and we will have to think hard to stop those recycling rates falling back.

"In Oxford we are very lucky we have residents who are concerned about the environment and I think people are very good at putting litter in bins.

"Studies have shown we could be throwing away up to 70 per cent, which is what he want to hit."

The council's recycling panel said taking bins away from areas like Cornmarket Street for short periods would let people 'appreciate the problem of litter'. Campaigners have also backed this move but Cllr Tanner has said this particular proposal is unlikely.

Words being removed from signs and clearer images to overcome language barriers instead is more of a certainty as is an increase in school visits to promote awareness.

The visual appearance of bins, with a possible new colour scheme and recycling bins with drink can-shaped holes are also on the list, which will be scrutinised today and could be approved as early as next week.

Mim Saxl, from Low Carbon West Oxford, said increasing awareness was crucial.

She said: "Removing bins from the city for a short period is a reasonably good idea.

"I guess it may result in there being a lot more rubbish but if there were signs raising awareness of littering and what can be recycled and where then it could effective.

"Also just making litter visible, by creating a pile of rubbish could also highlight the problem."

Ms Saxl added that clearer messages regarding what should and shouldn't be recycled were needed.

She said: "I consider myself to be someone who knows a lot about recycling but I still have big questions marks over certain items.

"I spoke to someone the other day who puts stuff in the recycling bin in the hope it can be recycled but isn't actually sure.

"It is certainly a barrier to improving recycling in the city."

The organisation has started handing out bamboo sporks - a cross between a spoon and a fork - to replace plastic cutlery and hoped food outlets across the city would use them.

The council's proposals will not be enforced until October 2018 at the earliest, if approved, and in the meantime businesses have rallied to keep the streets clean.

The team behind the decade-long OxClean scheme, which has seen residents clean up their own communities, has launched a new initiative to get businesses to clean the streets outside their premises.

In its first three months those signed up include the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian Library, Blackwell’s Bookshop, The Old Bank Hotel, Quod, The Old Parsonage, Gees, the Costa Coffee outlets in Oxford, Cowley and Summertown, Marks & Spencer’s shops in the city centre and Summertown, as well as Cherwell School.

OxClean founder Rosanne Bostock said: "It is a great idea for helping keep Oxford’s streets clean and litter-free all year round.

"It used to be a common thing to do in this country and still is in many parts of the world."