HEREFORDSHIRE: Questions answered on new recycling regime
Recycling composite (images: CC0-licence and YouTube)
The way Herefordshire households deal with rubbish will undergo major changes in two years’ time, it was confirmed yesterday, with the voting through of new policies on waste collection and disposal.
The changes are unlikely to be popular with everyone, and council officials and office holders tried to clear up some misgivings about them.
1. Where will I put all these bins?
The new recycling regime requires separate bins for paper and cardboard, for plastic, glass and metal, and for residual (non-recyclable) waste, each collected on a three-week cycle, as well as a “caddy” for food waste, collected weekly, and optional garden waste bin for fortnightly collection.
“Not everyone will find this easy, particularly people living in flats,” according to the council’s programme director for waste Rachel Joy, who has spearheaded the changes.
“We will look for alternatives for them – whether a box of a bag, or shared or community facilities, is more appropriate,” she said.
“Boxes are popular in some areas but can be difficult for manual handling, while bins take up more space.”
2. Why do paper and card have to be collected separately?
“The benefit of this change is that the quality of paper and card improves, because it’s not contaminated by broken glass, or soggy from wine or food,” Ms Joy said.
“It is then more acceptable and produces better prices, which will offset some of the cost of vehicles needed to recycle more.”
3. What if my black (residual) bin needs emptying more often?
Forty per cent of what currently goes in residual waste could be recycled, Ms Joy said.
“If people use the recycling bins, there shouldn’t be a capacity issue. We will continue to offer larger bins for larger families or those with medical need.”
4. What about nappies?
“We will encourage families to wrap nappies in biodegradable bags,” Ms Joy said.
Coun Toni Fagan called for support for local reusable nappy services to “get those in the mainstream”, adding: “There are some excellent solutions there.”
Head of environment climate change and waste Ben Boswell said the council plans “a behavioural change campaign over the next two years” on this. “My son is much happier in reusable nappies,” he added.
5. What if you are on holiday on that third week?
This question was posed by council leader David Hitchiner.
Ms Joy said: “Most of us have neighbours who will put bins out for us and we reciprocate.
“People who live in rural area or are elderly, we will look at assisted bin collection as we do now. But most of us will rely on being community-spirited.”
Head of commissioning, procurement and assets Coun Gemma Davies added: “If you need someone to put out your bins, there’s going to be someone that can do it. And we have (county volunteer initiative) Talk Community that we can connect you in with.”
6. Why not continue with alternating recyclable/non-recyclable collections each week?
This question was asked by Conservative group leader Coun Jonathan Lester, who said: “In trialling these schemes, please try to retain that. Otherwise it will cause problems for who have storage issues.”
But Coun Davies said: “Both scrutiny and cabinet have ruled that out. And the public have opted for this (through the consultation). We have identified those who this will impact negatively on.”
7. How do we know all this waste will actually be recycled properly?
This was also asked by Coun Lester.
Ms Joy said: “We know the public worry about waste going overseas in an uncontrolled way.
“We have assurance from our contractor that nearly all of the waste for recycling is recycled within the European Economic Area, with a small amount of waste paper going to Pakistan.
“We will need to see environmental impact assessment if the contractor wishes to export elsewhere.”
But Coun William Wilding suggested that “we encourage more waste to be dealt with in this country”, as “sending it to Pakistan can’t be right”.
8. What can be done to encourage people to recycle more than they do now?
Ms Joy said research has found that when residents see others recycling, where they have regular performance information about how their council is doing on recycling, and where they know where it is going, “they are more likely to recycle because they see the benefits”.
9. Is anything being done to reduce waste in the first place?
The waste collection and disposal policies are “just one part of the integrated waste strategy, which also include repair cafes, reusable nappies, and community fridges so companies can donate food”, Ms Joy said.
10. Where can I find out more?
A dedicated website will answer frequently asked questions, Ms Joy said. An app is also being developed to let people know what waste to put out when.
Commending the waste strategy, which was unanimously approved, council leader Hitchiner said: “Other parts of the country show these problems can be solved, and we a little bit behind the curve here in Herefordshire, where we don’t want to be.
“But there is a lot of further work to be done over the next two years.”
Words: Gavin McEwan, Local Democracy Reporter
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