Pledge made on recyclable waste

RECYCLABLE materials collected in Suffolk and Essex do not end up in landfill sites, officials insisted yesterday.

David Green

RECYCLABLE materials collected in Suffolk and Essex do not end up in landfill sites, officials insisted yesterday.

It followed allegations in a national newspaper that councils throughout the country were dumping up to 10% in landfill sites.

The newspaper report suggested that, nationally, three out of four councils were sending recyclable materials to landfill sites or incineration plants because markets had shrunk as a result of the economic downturn.

However, officials in Suffolk and Essex said yesterday that no part of the recyclable materials collected at the kerbside or household amenity sites were sent to landfill.

Malcolm Firth, chairman of the Suffolk Recycling Consortium, which involves six of the county's seven waste collection authorities, said: “We have never been in a position where we have to send recyclables to landfill. We are not even having to contemplate it.”

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He believed the “up to 10% “figures quoted in the national newspaper report could refer to the amount of non-recyclable materials recovered in recycling plants.

“We screen all the materials which are collected and in Suffolk up to 6% can be removed because they are not recyclable - they should not have been put in the collection banks in the first place,” he said.

Mr Firth said it was true that some recyclable materials were sent to the Far East for processing.

“This is because there is only a UK capacity to take 40% of what we collect and the big markets for these materials are in the Far East,” he said.

A Government study had found that there was no negative effect of this trade in terms of carbon emissions, partly because the materials were transported in ships which would otherwise be returning empty to the Far East, Mr Firth said.

Essex County Council said that none of the materials collected for recycling in the county were sent to landfill.

A spokesman said: “Recent reports have suggested a decline in the markets that local authorities can send recycling to, which will lead to materials collected being sent to landfill.

“Essex authorities are not experiencing any such difficulties with finding end markets for collected recyclables, so residents can carry on recycling as usual.

“District and borough councils in Essex are in close contact with their recycling contractors, who have confirmed that they still have sufficient markets to send recyclable material, as well as the necessary facilities to store items if required.

“Essex authorities are also keeping in touch with contractors, central government, the Environment Agency and other authorities in the region to monitor the situation, and take remedial action if required.”

The spokesman said Essex residents were recycling more than ever and were on track to meet the 40% target set by the county council for 2008.

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