© BBC NewsA team of 'snoopers' were employed by Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire
A council has seized more than 1,300 bins from residents as punishment for falling foul of recycling rules after employing specialist "snoopers" to inspect people's rubbish.
Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire last month hired 12 full-time "advisers" to sift through recycling bins before council collections to ensure waste is segregated correctly.
Anyone found contaminating recyclable items with rubbish such as food leftovers, nappies and garden waste has their bin tagged with a yellow warning sticker.
Repeat offenders caught breaking the rules again have their green-coloured recycling bins confiscated under a "two strikes and you are out" policy.
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The council confirmed 1,341 bins belonging to residents in Huddersfield have been seized since the policy was introduced on April 1 and are now impounded in a council-run depot.
Residents face a six-month wait before they can have their bins returned. It is not clear if people face a charge for having the bins impounded.
Council chiefs said the clampdown was launched to prevent recyclable waste from being destroyed after it became "contaminated" with non-renewable waste. © Provided by Telegraph Media Group LimitedAnyone found contaminating recyclable items with rubbish has their bin tagged with a yellow warning sticker Credit: BBC News
However, residents have argued the scheme is counter-productive as it leaves them without their bins for up to half the year, while others suggested they were powerless to stop passers-by from contaminating their waste.
Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy warned confiscating bins should be a last resort, but added it supported action to reduce contamination rates.
Tony Swaffen, 32, said he returned home from taking his son to school to find his bin had been removed.
He said: "It's so annoying. They have snooped through the bags in my bin. Someone has come up the driveway and just taken my green bin from the house.
"For the next six months I'm going to have to put my green waste in my black bin. How are they winning by doing that? It's ridiculous."
The council said its scheme had led to a marked improvement in the amount of recycled waste that is rejected. Before the policy, 33 per cent of recyclable rubbish was turned away, which has now dropped to six per cent. © Provided by Telegraph Media Group LimitedAn 'adviser' sifting through recycling bins Credit: BBC News
A spokesperson said: "It's important to point out that this is after those residents were educated on recycling and warned a number of times.
"Up to a third of those who have lost their bins were not making any attempt to recycle at all and were effectively using their green bin as an additional general waste bin."
Other councils told the Telegraph schemes were in place to warn residents against contaminating recyclable waste, but none said they involved confiscating bins.
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "We always want to see a substantial programme of awareness-raising and resident engagement before resorting to the withdrawal of services from householders, which guarantees that recyclable waste is going to end up in landfill or incinerated."
Louise Edge, from Greenpeace, added: "If we really want to solve the problem, then we need to make it easier for people to recycle while also abandoning the single-use mentality that's filling up our bins."