Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Whilst no-one would claim that Boston Borough Council’s green waste collection pilot has been anything other than a great success, the question now seems to be – “where do we go from here…?”
Certainly, the need for action was long overdue, as recently published figures for 2010 put the borough at the bottom of the compost heap with a meagre 29% of recycling - almost half that of the top recyclers West Lindsey, with 56% .
A report to tomorrow’s Environment and Performance Committee summarises the outcome of the three month pilot which was carried out at a cross section of roughly a third of Boston’s 26,000 households.
The total green waste collected exceeded expectation at 851 tons, and based on the pilot results it’s thought that a borough wide full year scheme could reduce
residual waste by some 3,000 tonnes.
This would generate huge savings in disposal costs - current landfill costs per ton £88.02 a ton compared to bio green waste composting at £23.36 per ton – and landfill charges are set to increase by at least £8.00 a ton next April and again in 2013, whilst the composting cost is fixed for two years.
So far so good – but the scheme has not been without its problems.
To cart the garden waste away, the blue recycling bins were used, and items for recycling had to be put into plastic bags instead.
This did not go down well with a lot of people, and numerous letters appeared in our local “newspapers” as a result.
An alternative would be to make a £20 one-off payment for a separate bin, and 43% said of those taking part in the pilot said they were happy to do this. But within that group 56% of those that said no said they would not be happy to use bags as the option for containment of dry recyclables.
If a green waste collection goes borough wide – which it is almost bound to do - the collection of recyclable material in bags could be a big stumbling block.
Not only that, but the borough refuse vehicle fleet is having a tottering time and needs replacing.
The pilot has shown that there are problems which would make the use of split bodied vehicles on several rounds impractical – although some smaller rounds could be remodelled to allow co-collection.
A study has identified efficiency savings, which - coupled with the maintenance reductions once replacement vehicles arrive – means the fleet replacement can be paid for from existing budgets over a seven year operational period.
But … the operation of ‘additional’ vehicles to collect green waste from the kerbside would have to be funded from contributions from the County Council via landfill savings “or perhaps income from residents themselves.”
We wait and we see – and an outside team of experts is looking at what might be done with the promise of reporting before Christmas so that the committee can offer ideas to the cabinet early next year.
Clearly, the biggest obstacle is the use of plastic bags to replace the blue recycling bin – and we suspect that quite a large number of people have the same problems that we do here in Boston Eye Street.
It’s very simple, really, we fill a bin with recyclables once a fortnight, and to put all of this into bags would create storage problems and difficulty getting the bags to their collection points.
Then there is the problem of rain getting into the bags, or the bags splitting – or worse still attracting the attention of some of neighbourhood humorist overnight.
The outcome for us, at any rate, will be not to recycle as much as we have previously– to be able to keep the bags manageable. This will result in a robbing-Peter-to- pay-Paul solution where we send recyclables to land fill, as a trade off for the green waste that goes for composting.
To our untutored eye, there is really just one simple answer – which is a third wheelie bin.
But strangely enough, although the borough’s survey suggests that many people agree, an e-petition on the borough’s website started at the end of May has so far only attracted 82 signatures – and it closes at the end of the month.
Somehow, we suspect that we will end up with bags for our recycling.
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