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Unexploded bombs and dead pets: The weird and the wonderful of Leeds’s waste recycling centres

Lee Appleton, team manager, and Liz Behrens, waste strategy manager, at East Leeds waste recycling centre, Seacroft.

Lee Appleton, team manager, and Liz Behrens, waste strategy manager, at East Leeds waste recycling centre, Seacroft.

ON DAY 4 OF OUR RECYCLING WEEK SERIES, AISHA IQBAL FINDS OUT ABOUT SOME OF THE UNUSUAL ITEMS LEFT IN THE CITY’S CIVIC SKIPS.

HAVE you ever been to your local household waste recycling site?

Rebranded from the traditional ‘civic tips’, Leeds has eight facilities across the city, open seven days a week.

The giant skips can take a vast array of items, including furniture, wood, textiles, batteries and fridges.

In fact, pretty much anything that is too big, or inappropriate, to put in your green bin, you can bring here.

Liz Behrens, service manager in the waste team at Leeds City Council, explains that while the majority of items ARE recyclable, the skips have uncovered “all sorts of weird and wonderful things over the years”, including dead pets and what looked like an unexploded bomb.

“We got the bomb disposal team out and closed the site,” she recalls. “I suppose it could be people cleaning sheds out when their grandparents die. You can find all sort of oddities in there.”

Another unusual find, explains Liz’s colleague and household waste team manager Lee Appleton, was a container full of mercury brought in by an old lady.

“Her husband was a scientist and he’d passed away,” he said. “I think there’s very little that we can’t take. That mercury, we made a couple of phone calls and we resolved it.

“We would rather take it from the customer than send them away.”

Liz oversees the operation of all the sites, while Lee manages a team of 55 dedicated staff manning them and guiding people towards the right disposal points,

Lee is keen to stress that the waste site is “not just a tip, it’s a recycling site”, and that the staff are there to help.

And Liz adds: “People are recycling more. They are becoming more informed and they are starting to think ‘right, if I can’t put it in my kerbside collection, where else can I take it?’.

“Obviously we want to prevent people coming here at all if they can, for example if they can donate it to a relative or a friend before they even think about bringing it here.

“People are getting away from that consumer-driven society where everybody thinks that they need everything new,” she says. “The recession has helped focus people with that.”

 

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