Concerns at low level of recycling in Peterborough costing hundreds of thousands of pounds

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Hundreds of thousands of pounds could be saved if recycling rates were not so low in Peterborough.

The current rate of recycling in the city stands at just over 34 per cent, but this figure does not include garden waste which would bring it down further.

A report by Peterborough City Council and Amey - which is contracted by the council to run street cleaning services - has highlighted the difficulties in encouraging a high rate of recycling.

It states that if half of the garden and food waste being put in black bins was placed elsewhere then taxpayers could save around £470,000.

Over 60 per cent of the waste presented in the black bin could be removed and placed into containers already in use to collect recyclable and compostable wastes in Peterborough.

The figures drew concerns from Councillor Nick Sandford. Speaking at the council’s Sustainable Growth and Environment Capital Scrutiny Committee tonight (Tuesday, September 15) he said those who had warned that charges to collect garden waste would impact recycling were being proved right.

Cllr Gavin Elsey, the council’s cabinet member for digital, waste and street scene, told councillors that his main focus was on improving the recyling rate, but he defended the brown bin charges.

He said the decision to make residents pay £39 for a brown bin had increased the amount of green waste going into black bins by 3.5 per cent which the council had predicted before introducing the scheme.

He added: “We expected to build up a 30 per cent take-up of the service over a number of years. It was 22 per cent last year and 25 this year, with more households taking second bins.

“The service is working and savings are exactly what we said it would be.”

In 2014/15, the council saved the £804,000 it had budgeted for from brown bin charges.

Schemes to encourage recycling at the moment include improving awareness to residents and offering incentives.

Innovative measures to tackle waste in the city are also set to come in.

Five ‘gluttons’ - mechanical pedestrianised cleansing vacuum machines to clean up items such as cigarette butts and drinks cans - are to be deployed in the city centre, Central Park, Central Ward and Bretton.

These will be used by Amey and community groups.

Cllr John Fox said: “Voluntary groups would use them. So I’m sure there would be other groups who will come forward.”

Cllr Sandford said: “It sounds to me like a good form of community empowerment.”

Cllr David Over said he can’t see any justification for council tax payers to use the gluttons, to which Cllr Elsey replied: “There is no justification. If they do not want to do then it’s up to them.”

There will also be a trialling of ‘Big Bellies’ - large capacity bins which compact rubbish inside of them so two-three times more waste can be fitted in them than for standard bins.

They would also use wi-fi to send messages when they need to be emptied.

The replacement of small post mounted bins is also underway with around 350 having being replaced in the first phase.

It is hoped the whole roll out will be completed by the end of September.

Further schemes for the next year include four bulky waste collection sites and a three-month environmental hit squad which would provide an intense clean to clear up fly-tipping, needles and also remove graffiti.

Cllr Elsey said Amey was doing well to make savings, but added: “We have all faced some challenges to make savings including making cuts we do not want to do.”

More: Budget 2015/16: Big saving made from brown bin charges, but at what cost?

‘Hammer’ fly-tippers with £50,000 fines say Peterborough city councillors