Waste experts are to be brought in to scrutinise the contents of rubbish bins across Hertfordshire – as part of a bid to find out exactly what we throw away.

As part of the ‘waste compositional analysis’ – expected to cost around £100,000 – teams will scrutinise bins from a number of residents in each district or borough.

They will look at residual waste bins – which is the non-recyclable waste that is typically destined for landfill or incineration.

They will also look at bins that contain ‘dry recyclables’ – such as cans, plastics and glass – where two or more are collected together.

For districts or boroughs that collect organic waste, the analysis will look at the split between food and garden waste too.

The contents of each bin will be hand sorted into different categories of waste, before they are weighed.

Those results will give a breakdown of the contents of bins – identifying what residents are throwing away and whether items are being put in the right bins.

The plans for the survey were given the backing of the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership, on Monday (November 4).

It will include kerbside collections and litter bins in nine of the 10 district and borough councils. Watford will not take part as it conducted its own analysis in July.

The findings, according to the report to the partnership, will also provide the councils with information about the amount of packaging that’s thrown away.

And that’s highlighted because of the government’s plans to introduce an ‘extended producer responsibility regime’.

It states: “A key feature of the new regime will be private-sector money used to fund costs (subject to conditions) related to the management of post-consumer packaging in both the residual and dry recycling waste streams.

“It is therefore imperative that all Hertfordshire Waste Partnership authorities have up-to-date data on what percentage of their overall waste streams are made up of post-consumer packaging such that they have a common basis on which to engage the Government on how to claim back the relevant costs.”

The project will go out to tender later this year, with the analysis expected to occur between February and April 2020.

A similar analysis of bins in Hertfordshire was conducted in 2015.

That showed households were putting out an average of 6.1kg of ‘residual’ household waste a week.

It found that, on average, 15.4 per cent of that (equivalent to 0.94kg) could have been placed in the dry recycling bin. And 35.8 per cent (the equivalent of 3.12kg) could have been placed in organic recycling containers.

It also found 78 per cent of residents put out ‘dry recycling’ containers for collection – with an average 3.65kg per household.

Eight per cent of that was classed as ‘contamination’, including items such as non-recyclable plastic, general residual waste and unacceptable paper and card.