Plastic items like toys and garden furniture are not currently being recycled in Lancashire and will end up in landfill, the county council has said.
Lancashire County Council took over the operation of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) at the beginning of April, and has temporarily removed the containers for hard plastics, whilst it seeks to put in place a new system.
This follows China’s announcement that it would no longer take shipments of plastic from countries like the UK.
A spokesman said he was not sure how long hard plastics taken to the tip had been going straight into landfill.
Household Waste Recycling Centres were previously managed and run by Suez UK.
A council spokesman said: “Our understanding is that within the industry, since the China issue, they were accepting less lower grade plastic.
“We suspect that much of it wasn’t being moved on.”
The spokesman added that removing the containers for hard plastics would show residents their waste cannot currently be recycled.
It is understood that many landfill sites across Lancashire are close to capacity.
Steve Scott, head of waste management for Lancashire County Council, said: “We’re very keen to ensure that as much of Lancashire’s waste as possible is recycled or reused, and this includes looking for ways to reuse materials which are more difficult to find a market for, such as hard plastics.
“We’re currently in discussion with processors to identify what type of hard plastics they have a use for, which will allow us to put in place a system designed to separate as far as possible those hard plastics which processors want, while reducing contamination in the containers from materials they don’t want.
“One of the reasons the county council has taken operation of the Household Waste Recycling Centres back in house is to give us the flexibility and freedom to easily introduce changes to the way waste is handled, and how we make use of it – ensuring that we make the best possible use of hard plastics is one example of this.
“We have removed the containers temporarily whilst we consider how best to achieve this but it is likely that we will have to be more selective about how we separate hard plastics in the future.”