Sending council’s recycling waste to England branded ‘unacceptable’

Last year, PKC sent 10,366 tonnes of dry mixed recycling waste to West Sleekburn near Newcastle.

Sending council’s recycling waste to England branded ‘unacceptable’ iStock

Sending Perth and Kinross Council’s recycling waste 160 miles to Northumberland has been deemed “unacceptable”.

Last year, PKC sent 10,366 tonnes of dry mixed recycling waste to West Sleekburn near Newcastle.

Perth and Kinross recycling waste has been processed there since 2016.

It was previously recycled at Binn Farm, Glenfarg.

Cllr Richard Watters believes transporting waste 160 miles is “unacceptable”.

In June 2019 he put forward a motion – which was approved by Perth and Kinross Council – for PKC to lead by example in tackling climate change.

He said: “Sending our recycling down to Northumberland is not ideal and even unacceptable from an environmental perspective.

“When this contract is up for renewal it is important the service is not just given to the lowest financial bid but to the one that helps us meet our commitments to deal with the climate emergency.

“As we move away from sending our waste to landfill sites it is imperative that any waste/recycling is processed locally – minimising the amount of CO² generated by unnecessary HGV transportation.”

Councillors were recently told PKC had been fined £100,000 for contaminated waste.

In a move to clamp down on contaminated waste, the local authority has been rejecting residents’ blue-lidded bins if their recycling is contaminated.

A PKC spokesperson said: “The material has been processed at West Sleekburn by SUEZ since November 2016. They are the same company who operated the plant at the plant at Binn Eco Park where material was previously processed.

“The contractor is required to follow a code of practice which sets out a standardised testing process and reporting mechanism for all the recycling material. This provides data on contamination and the sampling has been consistently applied throughout the whole period of the contract.

“Last year 10,366 tonnes of dry mixed recycling was taken to West Sleekburn.”

The spokesperson said PKC had been a “high performer” for many years in terms of recycling and diversion of waste from landfill.

But in 2020/21, 47.4% of PKC’s waste was recycled – a decline from 52.5% in 2019/20 and 51.4% in 2018/19.

The SNP group has estimated PKC has paid a further £1m in landfill tax over the past three years for failing to meet its target of recycling 60% of its waste.

The PKC spokesperson blamed the pandemic as being the main cause of the decline, and said: “While there has been a dip in recycling levels in 2020/21, this is primarily as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this has been and continues to be a national issue affecting the recycling performance of every local authority across the UK.

“Impacts from the pandemic include changes in household behaviours resulting in more household waste being generated and increased contamination of recyclable materials, and the temporary closure of many recycling and waste processing facilities across Perth and Kinross affecting community cleanliness.

“However, at the same time, our kerbside waste and recycling services for domestic households and commercial customers have continued to operate in line with national guidance throughout this period, covering 100 bin routes and over 100,000 scheduled uplifts each week.

“We are undertaking a range of initiatives to increase recycling and reduce contamination rates based around educating residents, and these are already showing results.

“The ongoing support of householders for these measures is something we greatly appreciate, and working together with them in a concerted effort we can resolve the issue.

“This approach also links in with our focus for 2021-2022, to further reduce, reuse and recycle waste produced in our communities.

“Additionally, as a council we are committed to tackling the climate change emergency, and actions such as reducing food waste will be included in our forthcoming climate change action plan.”

By local democracy reporter Kathryn Anderson

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