Peterborough ‘much cleaner’ and fly-tipping down as new city waste team praised - but concerns over recycling rates
Councillors have praised Peterborough City Council’s new waste collection team and say it is having an impact on fly-tipping hotspots.
The transfer of waste collection services from Amey to Aragon Direct Services (ADS) “could not have gone better,” according to council officers.
Speaking to members of the council’s Growth, Environment and Resources Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Marco Cereste, cabinet member for waste and street scene, said: “I am delighted to confirm that Peterborough now has a greatly improved service.
“The transfer from Amey Ltd to ADS began in February and was completed in May 2019. Since then they’ve collected more than 965 tonnes of waste and reported incidents of fly-tipping have been reduced from 4,000 to 3,000.
“In addition, ADS have been very active in clearing and cleaning known drug hot-spots, with 153 used needles taken off our streets. But perhaps the biggest change that members of the public will have noticed are the street cleaning machines.
“Whereas in the past our streets were cleaned three times a year, now they’re out there cleaning a patch of the city every single day. When you consider the sheer size of the enterprise involved the staff are happy, moral is very high, we’re hearing reports from the public that ADS staff are only too happy to help.
“In my opinion the transfer of waste collection services could not have gone any better and we now have a much cleaner Peterborough, I would have to say that it has been a huge success.”
Cllr Kim Aitken mirrored the opinion, and said: “I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far and I certainly haven’t received any negative comments, so could you please pass on our thanks to the ADS team.”
Cllr Graham Casey asked: “Isn’t the reason the number of fly-tipping incidents are dropping to do with the opening of the new home recycling centre, rather than ADS collections?”
Cllr Cereste answered: “No doubt the opening of the HRC has had some effect on fly-tipping. Perhaps people are beginning to realise they can get rid of their waste for free without having to engage the services of parasites who dump waste on our streets.
“But I also think the increased number of collections by ADS, and the fact they will come out within 24 to 48 hours to fly-tipping incidents and remove them, has had a real effect.
“The best news is that reported incidents are down by 1,000. What we need to do now is concentrate on the remaining 3,000 who still seem to think this is an acceptable way of disposing of rubbish.
“Actually, it is a crime and we will continue to punish those responsible through the courts as harshly as we can.”
Cllr Judy Fox thanked waste teams for targeting ‘drugs hotspots’. She said: “I want to pass on our thanks in Werrington to the ADS staff for the collections they have made at known hot-spots for drug use which have been cleaned up time and time again.
“It seems the message is finally getting across that dropping used needles in the street for children to see and pick up is simply not going to be tolerated, and I wanted to thank the staff at ADS for the wonderful and difficult job they’re doing.”
However, Cllr Chris Burbage had concerns about the percentage of recycling and composting in the report: “Your report says that we are recycling just over 40 per cent which doesn’t seem that high to me. I was wondering how this compares to other local authorities and if there is a national average that we should be trying to achieve and when will we achieve that?”
Richard Pearn, head of waste, resources and energy, replied: “Actually 40 per cent is quite average I’m afraid for councils, and the government target for 2021 is only 50 per cent currently.
“The process has been challenging for a number of years now, not the least of which is that we have 19 different types of plastic to consider, many of which cannot be recycled.
“The aim is to simplify packaging and reduce these in number to just four types by 2022, and that will streamline enormously the levels of recycling that can be achieved.”
Lib Dem group leader Cllr Nick Sandford wasn’t impressed, and said: “Some of us have been here long enough to recall this council doesn’t even achieve the 60 per cent recycling levels that we managed in 2008.”
Cllr Judy Fox said: “What level of food waste is being recycled and how can we improve this?”
Mr Pearn replied: “Currently we are receiving upwards of 30 per cent food waste in the black bins we collect. That sounds high, but if you look at our partners in Cambridgeshire that figure is more like 35-40 per cent food waste, but they have an incentive scheme whereby you can put your food waste in with your garden waste and it can be recycled that way.
“We have a good system - the key element I think that we can add is to remind people with stickers on their bins what can and what cannot go in each bin. Remember, we don’t throw away any food waste, our customers do, and if we can educate them to think before they throw away we have half the battle already won.”
Cllr Cereste said the authority was looking at ways of improving recycling. He said: “This government is keen to encourage local authorities to recycle much more. We are looking at the possibility of providing more bins, different bins in fact, any method that will result in people thinking about recycling, but it is not an easy task.
“We’ve done our homework and we’ve done some modelling, and we actually think we could provide those schemes with no additional cost in council tax to our citizens because we would recoup those costs from the extra recycling that we would achieve.
“The only reason we’ve not made a decision so far is because we want to know which of these methods the Government will favour first. There’s not a lot of point in us going down one road and then the government deciding they want it all done a different way.
“But I can guarantee this committee as soon as we have the right indications from government what they want done, we will implement those plans and recycle far more than we already do.”
Members noted the report and thanked the officers and ADS staff for the work they were already doing in improving the waste collecting in Peterborough.
Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service