WRWA is responsible for managing waste produced by four London councils – Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Wandsworth, and Kensington and Chelsea.Between 2017 and 2018, 10 million tons of household waste were recycled in England – almost half of the 22.2 million tons produced.After sources raised concerns about processes and high levels of contamination, an undercover reporter signed up for a job at the Material Recovery Facility in Wandsworth.Last year, The Telegraph and Unearthed found plastic recycling sacks showing the logo for both Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea councils at an abandoned rudimentary factory next to an illegal waste dump in Malaysia. However, the findings of an investigation by The Daily Telegraph and Unearthed are likely to call into question how much of the waste is processed appropriately and whether more can be done by the firms doing so, as well as households. Only one team leader warned that it could be a “waste” of recyclable material, and several employees said that staff needed to be careful because of the “cameras”.Staff told the reporter that items put in the bin were incinerated. “The rubbish we don’t process, that goes to be incinerated”, said one employee. “We send it off on the barges.”Cory said that it carried out regular checks at the facility and workers were told not to throw away recyclables.Both Cory and WRWA said that the targets were “common industry practice” and contamination was often caused because residents had not cleaned or separated their waste properly.Asked about the presence of rats and cockroaches, the two companies told The Telegraph that, while pests were an “unavoidable part of the waste management industry…. The health safety and welfare of our staff is our highest priority”.Wandsworth council said it would be “seeking detailed answers” from the waste firstname.lastname@example.org Plastic bags, recycling bags or light plastic were to be sent into the “chute” that stood above their heads and sucked up the materials, while electrical and larger items were to be taken to a “skip” where they would be processed. Staff were issued with protective clothing, but conditions in the warehouse were tough. Rats and cockroaches were seen on the conveyor belt and changing rooms, as well as downstairs where staff had to sweep among the bales of plastic or paper that were waiting to be transported.Workers were instructed to stop the “line” if they saw a rodent in case it became caught in the machine, but few bothered. One woman told the reporter to “grab” items “like a raccoon”– an instruction which was accompanied by her miming how to use two hands to take items quickly from the line – and an undercover reporter working for The Telegraph and Unearthed saw at least six members of staff put recyclable items, including plastic bottles and paper, in the bins.The reporter saw four employees throwing unopened bags containing recycling in the bins at such speed it appears unlikely they were able to check the contents. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Inside the factory It was possible that householders had put these items in their rubbish bins, but it also raised the prospect that some recyclable material was not being processed properly.When The Telegraph asked why the sacks had ended up in Malaysia, both Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea denied that they – or their contractors – shipped waste or recycling to Malaysia.While working at the facility, the undercover reporter spent most of their time in an area known as “pre-sort”. Here, staff were told to remove black bin liners and other items which could not be recycled and discard them in the bins. When the reporter discussed the practice of recycling being put in the general waste bins with their colleagues, most told them not to worry, with one woman commenting that there was “a lot of carelessness here”. When the reporter asked another worker if it was a “problem” if plastic bottles went in the bin, the woman replied that it was not. “Everyone does it. I do it too sometimes,” she said. Standing in a sweltering factory, the men and women wiped sweat from their foreheads as they leant towards the conveyor belt to pull off waste. It was only May, but the smell from the bags of rubbish was strong as the food inside started to rot in the warmth.Black bin liners, nappies, food – all items which could contaminate a batch of otherwise recyclable waste – needed to be separated from the recycling and put in the bins marked “general waste”.Tasked with removing 35 pieces of rubbish a minute from the line, it was sometimes hard for staff to keep up, and it appeared several workers may have felt pressured to “grab” any items – including plastic bottles, cardboard and unopened sacks containing recycling – and discard them in the bins.When the undercover reporter asked what happened to the items put in the bins, they were told: “If it goes to the bin? Well then it goes to the incinerator.”–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The comments may come as a surprise to residents who believe their waste is being recycled and are likely to prompt questions about what more households can do. The Western Riverside Waste Authority’s (WRWA) materials recovery facility in south London is operated by a company called Cory. Both organisations say that 99 per cent of the recyclable waste they are sent is ultimately recycled – a cheering figure for the hundreds of thousands of residents who live in these areas.