Recycling week – stop binning the bucks

Recycle Week celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. From Monday 17 June, the annual event encourages people, local authorities and businesses to recycle.

In the past decade alone the UK has recycled 50 billion plastic drink bottles, enough to reach the moon and back over 10 times. Across the UK, local authority recycling schemes have collected materials like card, paper, plastic and glass worth £2.4 billion.

This includes:

Paper and card worth around £1 billion
Plastic worth around £339 million
Mixed cans worth around £174 million
Mixed glass worth around £153 million
Textiles worth around £124 million

Defra Resource Management Minister Lord de Mauley said:

Dealing with waste and recycling properly not only makes environmental sense but also good business sense. We’ve made great strides in household recycling and over the next decade we can look forward to doing much more to reduce waste in the first place.

Reusing and recycling products and materials will also open up new avenues for UK businesses in growing domestic and export markets.

More ideas and information for consumers is available from including a postcode locator to enable people to check what they can recycle in their area.

Join in the twitter conversation #recycleweek2013.

Mixed recycling case dismissed by judge

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
6 March, 2013 | By Neil Roberts

A judge has dismissed the claim brought by members of the Campaign for Real Recycling that sought restrictions on commingled collections, according to the Environmental Services Association.

The claimants had argued Defra and the Welsh Government had not properly transposed the European revised Waste Directive Framework in the Waste Regulations (England and Wales), in particular rules on when commingled collections are allowed.

They argued commingled collections do not produce high quality recyclate while waste firms Biffa and Veolia released statements warned that a victory would force councils to switch to sorting recycling on the kerbside wasting taxpayers money and damaging recycling rates.

ESA said the judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, found the governments had properly interpreted European law and that the obligation to set up separate collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass from 2015 applies only where it is necessary to ensure waste undergoes recovery operations and to facilitate and improve recovery and is also technically, environmentally and economically practicable.

ESA’s director general, Barry Dennis told LGC’s sister publication Materials Recycling World: “The ESA has always believed that both the directive and the revised Defra regulations recognise that decisions over local collection methods are complex and that local discretion over the format of recycling collections is needed to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are met. We are therefore pleased that the judge, having examined the matter in great depth, has taken the same view.

“ESA members can now get on with the challenge of working with their local authority customers to select the most appropriate collection system locally. This is vital if we are to continue to make significant increases in recycling rates, so that as much of our waste as possible is returned to productive use.”

The legal action did force the governments to revise the regulations last year to require separate collections only where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and necessary to meet the required standards of reprocessors.

But the CRR rejected that revision as an inadequate transposition of the EU law which demands: “measures to promote high quality recycling” and “separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.”

The judge also dismised an application by the claimants to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

More rubbish recycled than taken to landfill, claims Defra

This story contains two diametrically opposed views of how the boost in recycling rates has been achieved. The councils suggest that fortnightly collections help to encourage residents to think more carefully about how they dispose of their refuse. A pressure group believes it to be no more than necessity because of the loss of weekly collections.

Given that it takes a lot of time, effort and resource to change the habits of the public, the councils may have a point. However, I think the government is, not for the first time, missing an opportunity. If the government and in particular Eric Pickles, are so keen to see weekly collections continue, why don’t they encourage councils to fund these through increased recycling? The current arrangement of recycling credits paid from county councils to districts (in 2 tier areas) is just recirculating the same local government money, not providing any new funding.

Daily Telegraph 1 January 2013 – ENVIRONMENT
By Christopher Hope

HOUSEHOLDERS are recycling more waste than they throw away for the first time following the widespread introduction of fortnightly bin collections, figures released yesterday show.
Official figures published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that councils in England recycled, composted or reused 10.7 million tons of the waste they collected, compared with 9.6 million tons that went to landfill.
Analysis shows that most of the 10 councils with the biggest increases in recycling rates have brought in fortnightly collections and food waste recycling in the past two years.
The most improved was Runny­mede council in Surrey, which increased recycling rates from 29 per cent in 2010-2011 to 47 per cent last year.
The council put its success down to widening the range of what could be recycled, including food waste. It also switched from weekly to fortnightly collections in January 2011.
Bury council in Greater Manchester increased recycling rates by almost 50 per cent by changing to fortnightly household rubbish rounds and bringing in food waste collections for 56,000 households which already had bins for recycling garden waste.
Vale of White Horse and West Oxfordshire district councils boosted recycling rates to above 60 per cent of total waste in the latest figures. Both authorities introduced a system of fortnightly rubbish and separate weekly food waste collections in the past two years.
The combination of fortnightly rubbish rounds and separate food waste collections also proved a success for Cheltenham council, which improved recycling rates by a third from under 35 per cent of waste to 46 per cent in a year.
Of the 10 councils with the largest increase in recycling, only the London borough of Newham, which had the second best increase, has weekly bin collections and no food waste pick-ups.
The council started from a low base, raising recycling levels from just under 15 per cent to almost 23 per cent over the past year.
Ministers have been fighting in vain to stop councils dropping weekly collections and moving to fortnightly collections to save money and increase recycling.
In November, councils caused outrage when they said they would be using a £250 million cash fund which was meant to finance weekly waste collections to pay to empty household slop buckets.
The debate continued yesterday after the figures were released, with a local government minister, Brandon Lewis, insisting that people wanted weekly collections.
“Research shows that residents overwhelmingly prefer a regular and frequent rubbish collection, but under the previous administration the numbers of weekly services across the country halved while council tax doubled,” he said. “Cutting the frequency of collections is a lazy and unnecessary move.
“It is possible to increase recycling and still have comprehensive weekly service, through better procurement, more joint working and using incentive schemes.”
Campaigners said people were being forced to recycle more because bins simply could not hold enough waste to avoid overflowing after 14 days.
Doretta Cocks, founder of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: “The idea of reducing frequency of residual waste collection is that people are forced to recycle by the lack of capacity in residual waste bins.
“This is a far speedier way of changing attitudes than education, which is costly and time-consuming. Unfortunately the end result is contamination of recycling materials.
“Residents are rarely asked whether they are happy with reduced frequency. If they are surveyed they are presented with the option of weekly collections with the most exaggerated costs quoted.”
A Defra spokesman said: “Across the country, people are cutting the amount of waste going to landfill by recycling more. They are not only protecting the environment, but fuelling a growing industry that reuses the things they throw away.
“More still needs to be done and we continue to push towards our aim of a zero waste economy, with businesses, councils and householders all doing their bit.”

Rubbish recycling companies are playing dirty

An important letter to all local authorities from the Local Government Association.

Judicial review of Waste Regulation: Recent press coverage

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, there is an important judicial review case currently under way involving a challenge to the current legal basis for waste and recycling collection.

The claimants in that case – UK Recyclate and a number of other recycling contractors – want some councils to be forced to change their arrangements at significant cost. The LGA is also a party to the case and is arguing that councils are legally entitled to retain a level of discretion to choose the appropriate arrangements for their areas.

A recent article in the Municipal Journal (MJ) by the claimants contains a number of factual inaccuracies and misleading statements. It appears to be designed to spread misinformation and persuade local authorities that the judicial review has already been decided and that they are at legal risk. The case has not been decided, and the purpose of this letter is to put the record straight.

What is at issue in the judicial review (UK Recyclate v Defra) is whether EU law requires every council to impose separate source collection of waste on its householders, outlawing co-mingled collection, or whether it permits co-mingling in appropriate cases. As you know, every local area is very different, and being forced to change to a single collection approach could have significant cost implications for many councils, and may well not be appropriate in many local circumstances.

The Government has recently made amended regulations in order to put the legal position beyond any doubt. Those regulations continue to allow for co-mingled collection where appropriate for local circumstances. They are the law of the land unless a court says otherwise. The LGA’s lawyers, and the Government’s, believe this approach is correct under EU law.

In the recent MJ article, the claimants’ lawyers attempt to tell councils that a judgment has already been made by the court and that councils which use co-mingled waste collection are now in a legally dubious position. This simply isn’t so. The judicial review is ongoing, but as yet there has been no hearing before a judge, and no finding made by the court.

As you will know, it is unusual for parties to litigation to run their arguments outside the courtroom while the case is ongoing. The MJ article therefore appears to be an attempt by the claimants to stir up local authority concern before the case even gets to a hearing, and suggests that they are arguing from a position of weakness.

It is of course in the commercial interest of the claimants that councils should move away from co-mingled collection. The LGA’s strong view is that the law permits councils discretion to make their own decisions in the light of local circumstances and in accordance with the clear legal provision made by the amended regulations.

Councils should certainly not be influenced by an inaccurate and misleading article written on behalf of parties with an obvious commercial agenda.

You may be asking yourself if there is anything you can do to influence the situation. The LGA is a party to the case and if you would like to follow events more closely and contribute, should the need arise, to developing evidence further, please do put an officer in contact with

The LGA has also communicated with your officers about this case and will be happy to provide further information on the position.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Mike Jones
Chairman of the LGA Environment and Housing Board

Personal note: I trust that when the dust has settled on this issue, all local authorities will consider very carefully, whether or not the companies involved in this legal action would make good partners in any future ventures.

Waste & Recycling Survey results

Thanks to publicity in the local press, my recent online survey asking people for their views on our waste collection service, was a success. Even more so, my thanks go to the nearly 100 people who were kind enough to take the time and trouble to complete the survey.  I will be getting in touch with all those of you who ticked that box at some point.  The results were as follows:

I should remind readers that this was a personal survey, as the cabinet member with responsibility for such things.  It was not on behalf of South Holland District Council. 

Q1. How important is a WEEKLY WASTE collection to you?


% response

Number of respondents

Not very important



Quite important



Very important



Q2. How important is a WEEKLY RECYCLING collection to you?
Not very important



Quite important



Very important



Q3.  Would you be prepared to pay for a GREEN waste collection?

% response

Number of respondents










Q4.  Would you be unhappy if the council stopped providing BLACK refuse sacks?

% response

Number of respondents

Not at all









Q5.  Would you be unhappy if the council reduced the number of GREEN recycling bags you could have?

% response

Number of respondents

Not at all









Q6.  Would you recycle LESS if the number of green recycling bags you received was reduced?

% response

Number of respondents










Q7.  Would you recycle LESS if NO green bags were provided to you?

% response

Number of respondents










Q8.  Do you think most people use litter bins if they are provided?









Q9.  Which age group is the WORST for dropping litter?

% response

Number of respondents




Middle aged






All as bad




Waste & Recycling Services in South Holland – a 60 second survey

Another false start survey from me via Twitter, for the same reasons as the last one – DOH!

These are my questions by the way and nothing to do with anything the district council is currently considering. Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this 60 second survey.

Recycling ruling could be a nightmare

One of the many elephants in the local government room at present, could rapidly grow in to a giant mammoth, should a Judicial Review go the wrong way.

My thanks to the Local Government Chronicle website and author Mark Smulian for the text below.

Fresh delay for recycling judicial review
15 June, 2012 | By Mark Smulian

A crucial judicial review that could determine the future viability of council recycling services faces a second delay.
The case concerns the way in which the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs transposed European regulations into UK law.

Defra has said it is “seeking agreement on a short extension to the stay” through discussions with the claimants. The case was due to have started on 13 June after being delayed from last December.

It turns on whether or not the regulations allow recyclable material to continue to be ‘comingled’ – collected together for later sorting – or whether different materials must be collected separately, as the industry would prefer, at considerable extra cost to councils.

Defra’s present wording of the amended regulations would see commingled collections continue only where separate collections were not “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” or were necessary to meet “appropriate quality standards”.

The judicial review has been brought by the Campaign for Real Recycling, which opposes comingling and argues that Defra’s current wording is unclear.

All in the eye of the beholder

I didn’t think I would come across anybody as obsessed as me when it comes to litter and the general state of our district, but a recent email has proven me wrong!  The three group of photos below were sent to one of our officers in support of a complaint.  As you will see, they are of a very rural landscape blighted, albeit very mildly, by litter.  Following on from these photos are a set of pictures I took recently, of what the people of Spalding are having to put up with.  The message here?  If you think what you are suffering is bad madam, just get a load of these!

That’s not to say that this lady isn’t absolutely right to be angry at the disgusting behaviour that leads to this mess – she is.  However, she goes on to berate the district council for not carrying out regular litter picks and street cleaning, complaining that she pays a lot more council tax here than when she lived down south.  That may be the case overall, but I doubt that she got her refuse and recycling collected weekly, along with the street cleaning and litter picking we are able to do, for just over £1 a week.  If the people of South Holland wanted a better standard of street cleaning, they would complaining to their district councillors on a regular basis wouldn’t they?  They would also be telling us that if we wanted their votes at the next elections, we would be doing something about these issues.  Unfortunately, from my point of view, they aren’t.  

The lady in question is also unhappy with the weekly collections as we use bags and not wheelie bins.  Unfortunately, this is where we have to part company, as I consider wheelie bins to be nearly as much of a blight of our roads and streets as littering and fly tipping is. 

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Pickles talks his normal rubbish

Bizarre performance from Eric Pickles on BBC TV this morning. Constantly referring to refuse as what sounded like ‘refuge’. Also making an extremely poor pun with the comment, ‘we are treating people like adults and…… not like rubbish’, get it? clever – NOT!

Notice the sudden use of ‘we’ by Pickles in the last bit? Eric Pickles is constantly criticising local government, yet when it’s good news, in his opinion, it suddenly becomes we this and we that. Hypocrisy come so easily to this man, he probably doesn’t even realise he doing it. Actually, on second thoughts, he knows exactly what he’s doing, because he’s all about the soundbite.