An exhibition aimed at improving the city’s recycling is open until Christmas.

Last year Oxford Direct Services collected 42,808 tonnes of waste from households around the city.

Just over half (51.4 per cent) of it was recycled or composted, but the rest - 20,828 tonnes of waste - went to incineration or landfills.

By 2030, the city council has pledged that 60 per cent of all waste in the city will be recycled.

Tom Garrood is the recycling promotion officer at Oxford Direct Services.

He said: “Compared to other, similar cities, Oxford is one of best performing ones, and Oxfordshire is the best county when it comes to recycling."

Oxford Mail:

He said Oxford reached a 50 per cent recycling rate in 2017 - three years ahead of schedule, having been set a target of 2020.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, because until 2030 we need to reach 60 per cent,” he added.

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Mr Garrood suggested that, currently, collection methods and materials used in packaging mean households are able to recycle about 80 per cent of their waste, but 'contamination' caused by items being put in the wrongs bins leads to whole collections being unsuitable for recycling.

He said: “There is a lot of room for improvement and we do all we can to educate how to recycle correctly.

“The way to achieve that is to know what needs to stay out of the recycling bin. Probably the most difficult thing to learn is 'when not sure, use green bin'."

Mr Garrood said one of the greatest problems faced when sorting rubbish is when there is a high level of contamination in the load.

“We probably can get away with 10-15 per cent of contamination, but anything above that means that the Kent Material Recovery Facility managers are likely to decide that an an entire load goes to incineration," he said.

“It’s easy to count -if there’s 20 tonnes of material on one lorry, and 20 per cent of that is contaminants, so the entire load is discarded, 16 tonnes of waste goes to the incinerator instead of being recycled.”

Oxford Mail:

He said black waste bags commonly 'confuse' the machines at the recycling centre, as well as nappies, clothes, shoes and food - which cannot be recycled.

Part of Oxford Direct Services' educational effort is an exhibition, which opened on November 19 at the Common Ground Cafe in Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, thanks to the cafe owner’s initiative to do something aimed at improving the city’s waste management.

Oxford Mail:

The exhibition will remain open until Christmas. It consists of five boards describing what should and shouldn’t be put into different waste bins in Oxford.

It describes a goal of creating a circular economy system, which is 'regenerative by design', rather than the current 'take-make-waste' model in the UK.

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Mr Garrood said: “I would love to be out of my job. Recycling is the last resort, but we don’t need to produce waste.”

When asked how to reach this target, he said a unifying waste management policy could be introduced in the UK and that manufacturers should be held responsible for disposing of the packaging of their own products, effectively pressuring them to resign ditch one-use packaging.