Only around six per cent of street bins in Reading can be used for recycling rubbish, it has been revealed.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) provides 2,000 public bins around the town and says around 120 of these can be used to recycle.

The council has backtracked after previously responding to a freedom of information (FOI) request stating that it did not know how many recycling bins it had and could not afford to find out.

A spokesman for the council said: “The exact number of bins and locations fluctuates for a variety of reasons, including new developments, requirements to remove or relocate bins by utility companies, vandalism or as part public realm improvement schemes.

“We can confirm there are around 120 dual-use recycling bins across the borough, which take both normal rubbish and recycling in two separate but adjacent containers, as part of more than 2,000 litter, recycling and dog waste bins across the whole Reading.

“We are in the process of recording all highway assets and this element will be included as part of that exercise.”

The council was asked by a member of the public to explain how many public recycling bins and general waste bins there are in the town, broken down by the type of waste they accept.

But streetcare operations manager Chris Camfield said the council does not hold a definitive list and the amount of time it would take to gather this information would exceed the appropriate limit of £450 or 18-hours works.

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act provides an exemption from a public authority’s obligation to comply with a request for information where the cost of compliance is estimated to exceed the appropriate limit.

Jack Fifield, who sent the FOI request, was mystified by the response.

He said: “I am confused as to how the information would take more than £450 to gather.

“Of the 2000 litter bins, is the council not aware of how many are equipped to accept recycling?”

The council has now confirmed it does know the rough number and is in the process of find out the exact figure.