Recycling rates dip could lead to 'significant' fines

The council has introduced the three-weekly black bin collection in an attempt to encourage more robust recycling.
The council has introduced the three-weekly black bin collection in an attempt to encourage more robust recycling.

A slump in national recycling rates has left the town hall at risk of “significant” financial sanctions, figures reveal.

Data released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has shown a 2 per cent drop in recycling rates on average across local authorities since 2012.

In attempt to promote more robust recycling in the borough, Wigan Council recently introduced the three-weekly black bin collection which it also hopes will save the borough £2 million per year.

Last year the borough made around £935,000 of its £52.9m revenue through recycling, which amounts to 1.8 per cent of the council’s revenue.

Karl Battersby, director of economy and environment, said: ““Recycling helps us to keep council tax low, protects frontline staff, for example school crossing patrols, and ensures we can continue to fund essential services.

“We knew more needed to be done for the borough to reach its savings and recycling target.

“If the borough doesn’t hit its recycling target of 50 per cent by 2020 it could be fined which may result in cuts to other services.

“Wigan Council was the third worst hit local authority in budget cuts and, by 2020, will have lost £160m in government grants.

The Defra figures show that only 44.3 per cent of local authority waste is now being recycled, a number which falls far short of the 50 per cent required by the Government.

Dry recycling, which includes plastic,cans and bottles, makes up the bulk of household waste which is currently being recycled.

The tonnage of dry recycling (including waste prepared for reuse such as plastic or metal, has remained “relatively steady” for several years- according to the environment authority.

It rose slightly by 0.2 per cent in the 12 months leading to June 2015 compared to the previous equivalent year.

However, the recyclable goods which have taken the biggest hit are “other organic” products, which is made up of predominantly garden waste which has dropped by 5.7 per cent nationally.. Defra says that this type of product is “subject to seasonal variation related to the weather”.

Mr Battersby added: “We are the last authority in Greater Manchester to revise our waste collection service. Our food waste collection remains a fortnightly collection and the frequency of our paper and card collection has increased.

“Along with the collection changes we now have an education and enforcement team who are deployed across the borough to help raise awareness on recycling and to deal with any environmental crime issues such as fly tipping and bin contamination.

“As part of The Deal we encourage residents to report any environmental crime issues to us so we can take the appropriate action.”