Richmondshire District Council has stated it is facing a dilemma over improving the amount of household waste that it collects for recycling to help its “embarrassing” recycling rates.
A meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s internal scrutiny committee heard the authority had delayed making a decision over how to bolster its recycling performance for years as it awaited the findings of a government review designed to cut confusion over waste collection.
Earlier this year a national league table compiled by letsrecycle.com saw Richmondshire given the lowly ranking of 232nd council in the country for recycling, with residents in the 2019/20 financial year sending 38.2 per cent of household waste for reuse, recycling or composting.
The top performing recycling authority in the region, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, saw 63.3 per cent of household waste sent for reuse.
Richmondshire was found to have the lowest recycling rate in North Yorkshire and also collected a lower proportion per resident than its neighbouring authorities to the north, Durham and Darlington.
Colin Dales, the authority’s corporate director, said following a review by the council in an ideal world he would be recommending the council improved its recycling rates by “co-mingling” different types of recycling materials in one bin, with the exception of glass, and starting weekly food waste collections.
The suggested change would increase the cost of recycling from £386,000 a year to about £1.2 million, alongside one-off costs of £432,000 for co-mingling bins and £100,000 for food waste bins for every property in the district.
The meeting heard the government had given assurances that it would help council’s fund food waste collections, but that had been before the pandemic, so there was now uncertainty over that.
However, Mr Dales said the government had also indicated it would press ahead with weekly food collections, so it would be prudent to include that as a feature on its collection lorries if the council decided to replace its ageing fleet.
He told the meeting: “Clearly if the government sets out a clear line as to how they want things to happen it would be very foolish of any council to put something in place that directly goes against government guidance or even legislation.”
Mr Dales added with a unitary authority set to take control in April 2023 and uncertainty over the recycling strategy it would want to implement, he would be recommending the authority does not take any action at the moment.
Councillor Clive World, who has battled for action to improve recycling for years, said it was not the authority’s fault that “our recycling levels are so low”.
He said: “It’s embarrassing, but it’s not our fault and the people of Richmondshire should be told that.
“We have for recycling in Richmondshire a dreadful name.
“People look at the percentages and we’re very low down. I’m on climate change groups and at every meeting I and other people go to it’s the same.
“We would have moved ahead by now, with I believe co-mingling, but for the government wasting time by not giving us a definite answer or we could have wasted so much money.”