Recycling bins being contaminated with general waste could cost Fife Council over £500,000 per year in lost income and increased processing charges.
The problem of contamination has been affecting all the materials being collected for recycling from kerbsides.
Recycling companies are finding food waste, nappies and even dog excrement in paper recycled by Fifers, while food and garden waste is being contaminated with glass, plastics and rubble.
Councillor Pat Callaghan, executive spokesman for environment and transportation, said: “We have a tremendous recycling record.
“Fife recycles more waste than most other Councils in the Scotland.
“We also have a fantastic record for providing high quality, contamination free materials from the kerbside recycling bins.
“This has been down to the way in which the vast majority of Fifers have embraced the recycling services provided by the council.
“In recent years this performance has saved millions of pounds in landfill tax and has also provided a multi-million pound income stream. Without this financial benefit, vital council services would be at risk.
“Unfortunately, over the last few months, we have seen more recycling bins being contaminated, even in areas where we’ve had very few problems in the past.
“The immediate impact is an increase in costs, because the material has to be processed to remove contamination.
“It also means reduced income since the value of contaminated material is a lot less than the high quality recyclates that we are used to supplying.
“Worse still, if the current contamination levels remain, there’s a risk that we might not be able to find buyers for some materials.”
Cllr Callaghan said some residents possibly didn’t realise the impact placing the wrong material in the recycling bin could have, with even small amounts of the wrong waste leading to problems at the processors.
Information and advice about what can – and can’t – be recycled, is available at www.fifedirect.org.uk/wasteaware.