Sat, 18 Jan 2020
A PETITION calling on West Berkshire Council to collect and recycle a wider range of plastics has been rejected by the local authority.
The petition, which was started by Newbury resident Sukey Russell-Hayward, was signed by more than 2,000 people – making it one of the largest ever submitted to the council.
West Berkshire Council does not currently recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays (PTTs) and the petition urged it to look into doing so.
But at a meeting last week, the Conservatives voted unanimously to do nothing until 2022/23.
Green Party district councillor Steve Masters – who introduced the petition on Mrs Russell-Hayward’s behalf – said that “a lot of the community believed the council could be doing a lot more”.
However, Conservative members expressed concern that not all PTTs that were collected ended up being recycled.
The council estimated that £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, it said.
At last Thursday’s executive meeting, Conservative councillor Ross Mackinnon said PTTs often ended up being exported and dumped overseas.
He said: “Contributing to any pollution abroad is not what this council wants.
“We do not want to collect waste for recycling that doesn’t get recycled.”
He finished by saying that it would “not be in the best interests for the council tax payers to do what is suggested in the petition”.
The council’s executive member for the environment, Steve Ardagh-Walter, echoed his colleague’s points, saying, “Just because some councils do collect plastic tubs and trays, it does not necessarily mean these get recycled.”
He added that single use plastics were a “small part of the overall environmental challenge”, saying that they represented 1.5 per cent of carbon emissions.
Mr Ardagh-Walter said plastic packaging was a “global issue” and that the UK Government was consulting on major changes to make it the manufacturer’s responsibility to pay for the disposal of their packaging.
He added that he was looking forward to the council having its own dedicated Twitter account for waste and recycling.
He concluded by proposing that “we pause for a relatively short period of time and make no change until 2022 or 2023 when the council would have more certainty over funding”.
However, Green Party councillor Carolyne Culver said she believed the council should investigate this further and “not wait until 2022/23 to do something”.
She also said the council should revoke the £50 green bin charge it introduced in September 2018 and bring forward the recycling of hard plastics.
Lib Dem councillor Adrian Abbs said: “Here you say the council is one of the best performing.
“We are 87th out of 365 – we do not even make the top quartile.
“Let’s not pat ourselves on the back and realise we have a lot to do.”
He also reminded the council that just over 2,000 people had signed the petition, which he said represented 2.5 per cent of all the households in West Berkshire.
Mr Abbs added: “People keep telling me how prosperous West Berkshire is.
“We should be able to afford to do something.
“It is very sad indeed for West Berkshire to take the attitude of doing nothing.”
His Lib Dem colleague Owen Jeffrey had a clear message for the council: “Do not be self-satisfied. Do not be content by 49 per cent. Do source segregated collection.
“Do it and do it properly. Do listen to the public of West Berkshire. This is what they want.”
Lib Dem councillor Martha Vickers said: “What concerns me most is the 25 per cent of food waste that goes into the black bins.
“I think more should be done about that.
“Reduce, reduce, reduce is the message we should be getting across.”
Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley and Cold Ash) responded by saying: “Green waste bins can still be used for food recycling at no cost.
“There is no need for people to put food waste in the black bin.”
The petition had called on the council to:
Improve the environmental solutions for single-use plastics, including the collection and recycling of domestic plastic waste within West Berkshire.
Provide more effective communication on the environmental solutions for single-use plastics, including the collection and recycling of domestic plastic waste within West Berkshire.
Improve research into alternative and more ecological approaches to managing domestic plastic waste within West Berkshire.
In her petition, Mrs Russell-Hayward said: “Some local residents have tried to compensate by offering collection points at their homes and then driving cars full of plastics to collection bins at Sainsbury’s in Reading.
“This is not sustainable and these people and businesses have become overrun with the volume of plastics being deposited, posing significant issues in terms of storage, handling and health risks.”