'Zero waste' council dump at landfill

A TOP recycling borough came under fire last night after it emerged hundreds of homeowners were having their food and garden rubbish sent to landfill because of a shortage of collection trucks.

Laurence Cawley

A TOP recycling borough came under fire last night after it emerged hundreds of homeowners were having their food and garden rubbish sent to landfill because of a shortage of collection trucks.

Critics have called on St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which last week held a much-heralded Zero Waste Week, to be “more robust” on recycling after it emerged 200 tonnes of kitchen and garden waste were currently sent off each year to landfill because of what the council termed “capacity issues”.

Waste chiefs said 650 homes in the borough were missing out on kitchen and garden waste collections because its brown bin scheme was “currently working at full capacity”.

The council is now planning to bid for additional funding from Suffolk County Council to pay for a new truck, which would be used to increase collection rounds.

Karen Cannard, a mother-of-two from Bury's Moreton Hall estate whose endeavours to live a zero waste lifestyle were last week featured on BBC Radio Four's Woman's Hour, said: “It is terrible if you've got people who want to recycle and can't. As a homeowner I really sympathise, it is really frustrating to want to do something like recycle but you don't have the facility.

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“This doesn't look very good for St Edmundsbury.”

Peter Stevens, council portfolio holder for environment, said: “They don't have a brown bin at the moment because we've not had the funds available to set up the additional resources required.

“I think my officers have had requests from people wanting to recycle and we are putting in a bid for money so that everybody will get a brown bin. We are constantly aware of new housing and always trying to plan for it.

“This funding would be used to lay on a new freighter (collection truck). They are very expensive and we would have to configure the routes. We are in the top 10 and we are certainly on of the most cost-effective authorities.”

Opposition Labour group leader Mark Ereira said: “If it is shown we are running a zero waste week and we've got people who are moving into the area but cannot join the recycling effort then we've got to act.

“As an excellent council which is very committed to recycling we have collectively with the residents of the borough achieved a great deal. But I am very disappointed to learn that people are moving into new homes and not getting brown bins. We will be calling on the administration to be more robust and enthusiastic about supplying brown bins.”

Last year, the council managed to recycle or compost more than 50% of all waste in the borough, which is about twice the national average.

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