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Council proposes ‘three strikes’ rule on recycling

Bin crews could be asked to inspect bins for recyclable material and issue warning tags, in an attempt by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to drive up its poor recycling rate.

After receiving three warnings, bins would be left without being emptied.

The council currently has one of the lowest household recycling rates in the country at just over 25%, well below the 50% target imposed by the EU for 2020. It estimated the ban would increase its recycling rate by four percentage points within the next 12 months.

The proposals were outlined in a report which will be considered by councillors on 21 January. It recommended that all recyclable materials be banned from residual waste bins from 1 April.

Householders that fail to comply will find an amber hanger left on their bin and will be contacted by the waste service, either by letter or in person, to be told what the policy is and asked why they do not recycle. The third time that recyclable material is found in a black bin, a red hanger will be left, indicating collections will no longer be made.

The report admitted that some residents “may have concerns about the introduction of such an approach”, but said it was difficult to justify allowing them to put recycling in residual bins. It added that “good communication and a balanced approach to the enforcement” would minimise the impact.  

Through its contractor Veolia, Basingstoke and Deane runs a weekly residual waste collection, fortnightly recycling bin and glass box collection and charges for fortnightly green waste collections. The service receives a 98% satisfaction rating from residents.

The council blames its low recycling rate partly on the weekly residual service. It said it could increase the recycling rate by “up to 10%” and reduce service costs by around £500,000 if it moved to fortnightly, but despite this it has not proposed changing collection frequency.

Local authorities and the waste industry have been scratching their heads to find ways to improve England’s household recycling rate after Defra figures revealed the country is likely to miss the 2020 target. There have also been concerns that rates could in fact decrease next year.

A recent round table discussion held by MRW heard from a range of industry experts on why rates are faltering. WRAP research has also found that only 25% of people were putting the right thing in the right bin every time.

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