Thu, 09 Jan 2020
WEST Berkshire Council has said that “now is not the right time” to extend the type of plastics it collects.
However, separate food waste bins and collections could be introduced to help improve recycling rates.
The assessment follows a petition started by Newbury resident Sukey Russell-Hayward calling for the collection and recycling of a wider range of plastics in the district.
West Berkshire Council does not currently recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays (PTTs) and said there was uncertainty as to what happened to the these plastics once they were collected.
The petition collected more than 1,500 signatures needed to trigger a council debate, which will be discussed at a full council meeting tonight (Thursday).
A council report written ahead of the debate said: “The council and Veolia’s preferred approach is to avoid collecting waste materials for recycling unless there is a market for them and reasonable assurance that they will be recycled.
“Collecting the materials is relatively easy compared to securing a viable recycling destination for the materials in the UK.
“If exported overseas, as done by many of the UK authorities who collect these additional plastics, then the council will have limited control over what happens to the waste.”
And £1m would be needed to upgrade its existing sorting technology at its Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Padworth.
A further £100,000 would also be needed for ongoing costs and collection of PTTs.
With no established market for PTTs, the council said that investment was unlikely to deliver value for money.
There is also uncertainty over the Government’s final proposals and funding sources for local authorities, with the situation unlikely to be confirmed before the end of 2020.
“It would be inadvisable for the council to adopt the collection of new waste types ahead of this timeline due to the risk of uncertainty,” the report states.
But the council said it would explore introducing separate food waste collections at the kerbside, which is said would deliver significantly better environmental and value for money benefits.
In 2018/19, the council achieved a recycling (and composting) rate of just under 50 per cent.
The local authority said that food waste currently makes up about 25 per cent of a residential bin and that collecting food waste separately would “significantly improve the recycling performance and will have greater benefits for the environment”.
The collections would come at a cost, including an investment in collection vehicles and food waste caddies/containers.
But the council said the initial investment would be offset by savings from avoided disposal/ energy from waste use.
Furthermore, separate food waste collections could be eligible for Government funding.
The council has recommended no changes to plastic collections until 2022/2023, when further clarity has been reached.