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Controversial checks on residents’ rubbish – dubbed “bin snooping” by opponents – will be extended after the town hall missed its recycling targets.

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Islington Council will now monitor food waste, as well as dry containers full of cans and cardboard, to make sure people are sticking to its compulsory recycling policy launched in April 2011.

But critics say the checks are a waste of money and do little to boost recycling.

Cllr George Allan, Lib Dem environment spokesman, said: “Bringing in a team of bin snoopers was controversial enough but they are not even making any difference.

“Labour really needs to go back to the drawing board on improving recycling rates in Islington.”

The council narrowly missed its 32 per cent target for household waste recycling in 2011/2012, managing 31.6 per cent.

In theory, residents who are persistently caught failing to separate their rubbish face £80 on-the-spot fines. Eleven warnings have been issued but no fines.

Caroline Allen, of Islington Green Party, said: “Food recycling isn’t even available on many estates and money would be better spent on expanding the scheme.”

A council spokesman said checks are carried out by existing rubbish collectors and no specialist “bin snoopers” are employed.

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment, said: “Residents have done a commendable job increasing recycling while bearing the brunt of government cuts.

“Now we want them to embrace food waste recycling with the same zeal as paper and glass. Recycling saves money that we can invest in improving services.”

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