Claims Suffolk's falling recycling rate down to reduced waste dismissed by opposition groups
PUBLISHED: 11:37 28 September 2018
Fresh criticism has been levelled at the county council over recycling rates, as latest figures show another fall.
Suffolk County Council data for the last three months of 2017/18 showed a drop to 48% for recycling rates, down from 53.1% at the same point in 2014/15.
Speaking during Thursday’s scrutiny committee, Conservative cabinet member for environment and public protection, Richard Rout, said the fall could be a positive.
“There are a number of factors there,” he said.
“As we move towards waste reduction, by default the recycling rates will go down, so that could be seen as a sign of victory.”
Mr Rout said there was lots of work ongoing to promote the council’s Greenest County campaign, including the Greenest County Awards, the launch of the Plug-In Suffolk scheme next month to encourage more electric charging points to be established, and development of an energy strategy for the whole county.
But opposition parties have questioned whether enough is being done.
Andrew Stringer, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said: “How is it possible that the same council that has the aspiration to be the ‘Greenest County’ has seen a year-on-year drop in the percentage of household waste being recycled, even after the importance of recycling plastics was highlighted to the nation by Blue Planet?
“It’s clear that Suffolk County Council are lagging behind rather than leading the way. For too long we’ve claimed the title ‘Greenest County’ without putting the policy framework in place to allow this to flourish. We’re not focusing on initiatives that could really make Suffolk a greener place to live.”
Peter Gardiner, Labour spokesman for environment and public protection disputed claims that the harsh winter was behind the drop.
“The real reasons for a reduction in recycling is that Tory-led district and borough councils in Suffolk now charge for brown bins and the recycling centres are closed for part of the week,” he said. “This is in contrast to a Labour administration on Ipswich Borough Council who have kept brown bins free for their residents.
“If the Tories in Suffolk want to make the ‘Greenest County’ a reality, they need to do more than offer soundbites and actually deliver practical solutions to increase recycling rates.”