The first council recycling sites to be transferred to voluntary sector control have opened for business.
Two household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) owned by Warwickshire County Council are being managed by charitable enterprise Warwickshire Community Recycling (WCR).
The council made the decision to hand the day-to-day operation of the centres over to WCR as an alternative to closing the sites or introducing charges in response to spending cuts.
Glenn Fleet, group manager of waste management at the local authority told MRW the charities would raise money for community groups and generate income through on-site re-use shops.
The council will fund the maintenance of the sites while the charities will take income from the sale of recyclables and provide the labour through paid workers, apprentices and volunteers.
Fleet said the solution would keep the centres open to the public, divert waste from landfill and provide funding to community groups.
“It is a win-win all round”, he said.
“We’ve kept all our nine sites open with just some reduced hours. Residents can see we’ve kept the sites open and are totally supportive of the council. They can see we’ve implemented methods to benefit the community.”
Fleet said the council had received a lot of interest from other councils interested in the scheme.
Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee chair Joy Blizzard said the solution “sounds like a concrete example of the Big Society”.
Blizzard said voluntary organisations had been successfully involved in recycling for a long time.
Maintaining recycling centres amid budget cuts is proving tough for many councils.
In February, MRW reported that a former council recycling centre taken over by a private firm for a pay-as-you-throw trial in Suffolk had closed due to under-use.
Meanwhile, Cumbria County Council consulted on closing six of its 14 HWRCs but agreed to keep them all open while scaling back the opening hours.