Monday, 27 November 2017

Recycling! now is the time to give it back!

My previous blog post placed focus on the two faces of recycling in Derby UK.
On the one hand as Zero Waste Week was taking place the council was using social media to project an image of its recycling success while at the same time hundreds if not thousands of Derby residents in areas such as Normanton and Arboretum ward had had their kerbside recycling service removed a few years back. EIR / FOI data shows there are actually around 9,000 properties without a blue bin recycling service in the city. 
You can read more about the two faces of Derby recycling here-

The importance of recycling cannot be ignored - both from a sustainability aspect and a financial aspect as it is so much cheaper to recycle than to send waste to landfill or incineration.
The removal of recycling in the city was carried out for some questionable reasons in recent years and one thought is that this was an attempt to procure a feedstock for the controversial Sinfin waste gasification incineration plant in the city which is due to start operation soon.
They failed to address recycling contamination issues in those areas, left recycling bins festering for weeks if not months and then claimed contamination was a serious issue.
Contamination IS a serious issue if you do not address the issue!
The councils answer was to remove the service - quite convenient when you need to procure waste to burn!
What happened was they convinced other Derby residents that residents in the areas in question either didn't care or were to stupid to understand how to recycle!
The council was then able to sweep away the blue bin recycling service in many streets even though it was shown via FOI that they had no evidence to justify the service removal when the council targeted my own street - thankfully in my case they did not remove the service.
Replacement bring sites were put in place finally to provide some form of service for those who wanted to recycle.
What they actually did was install prime fly tip hot spots such as this one at Grove Street carpark in the Arboretum ward.

One of the saddest sights I have seen at a recycling site in recent times was a bag of plastic recyclables left at the bring site above which will have had no chance of being recycled because the bins were full and fly tipping surrounded the site.
The fact someone went to this trouble shows people care! The note on the bag says PLASTIC.

With the bring sites becoming quite a state 2-3 of the sites were removed by the council - once again condemning residents to having no recycling service.
This prompted me to put a question to the council cabinet member for waste Cllr Asaf Afzal at a recent Full Council meeting in the city regarding bring site provision. 
Question from Simon Bacon to Councillor Afzal
The city council removed the bring recycling site on Havelock Road in Normanton due to fly tip issues. This means that local residents have no ability to recycle their rubbish. When will the city council be replacing this bring site with an alternative site in that area of the community?
As you have mentioned these sites have attracted fly tipping. The council do not intend to replace any of the bring sites with alternative sites due to the costs and resources needed to maintain them.

From this we can see that the council does not care that their residents have had their ability to recycle removed as it is a case of - no its gone and your not getting it back!

But in recent months the council has done something positive which is to finally listen to local people who pushed for fly tip and wheeled bin enforcement in the city.
Enforcement of the wheeled bins - where residents are issued section 46 notices advising them that they can only have their waste bins in the streets at specific times.
In my view one of the biggest issues with bins on streets is the fact that this led to recycling bins being contaminated - as people passing in the street used them as normal bins for litter or fly tippers made use of the fact they could place whole bags of mixed waste in the bins.
So considering that the council now had staff in place to improve the street scene by targeting bins on streets but also importantly that these same staff were engaging with residents what better time could there be to use the enforcement staff to provide information on recycling at the same time they engaged with residents about their bins - an all in one process which would both address bins on streets and recycling contamination issues.
 once carried out in an area it would seem sensible to put back in place the blue bin recycling scheme due to the reduced risk of bin contamination and the fact that recycling is so much cheaper
So the question had to be posed!

Question from Simon Bacon to Councillor Afzal

With the successful work being carried out by the councils new Community Protection Officers to remove bins off streets in areas such as Normanton, will the council now return the blue bin recycling service to the streets targeted by the CPOs due to the reduced risk of bin contamination?

The contamination levels of the blue bins were very high. It is the council's intention not to return the blue bin recycling scheme to these areas as it proved expensive to operate and administer.
What we have is a council that for some reason does not want to recycle! its recycling rate has collapsed in recent years and surely the return of a service taking us back in the right direction - A CHEAPER SERVICE should be the way forward.



  1. Brilliant article Simon. I am in total agreement with all your points raised and I have been emailing the Council likewise. It is absolutely disgusting that the Council do not deem recycling important to deal with the matter properly and restore bins or hubs but on the ohter hand they are actively promoting and advising people about the importance of recycling. This is a matter of public health and the protection of the environment and wildlife, particularly plastics ending up in the oceans killing marine life and poisoning the seas.

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