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HWRC to close after charges trial

A former council recycling centre taken over by a private firm for a pay-as-you-throw trial has closed due to under-use.  

The Bramford Household Waste Recycling Centre in Suffolk will close on 11 March, following a six-month trial, Bolton Brothers Recycling & Waste Management announced this week.

It is a further blow to politicians and campaigners keen to see HWRCs survive amid hefty council budget cuts.

The Bramford site, one of seven closed by Suffolk County Council last year, became one of three to be re-opened by private firms.

While the re-opened sites offered free disposal on a wider range of recyclable materials than previously, charges were introduced for waste going to landfill.

Bolton Brothers said the two sites it operates have recycled greater than 95% of waste received over the last six months - a much higher percentage than when they were council owned.

But commercial director Reuben Bolton added: “Unfortunately visitor numbers have dropped significantly, particularly at Bramford where the next nearest free site is only three miles away, so we haven’t even been able to break even.

“The only income we were generating was from the sale of some of the recyclables and also the gate fee charges, but the combined income didn’t cover the overheads. Without any additional funding from government this project is not sustainable based on the low usage.”

He added that the firm would look at providing a replacement recycling centre for the public in the near future.

HWRCs are under threat across the country as local authorities look to cut their budgets.

Cumbria County Council closed a consultation on 19 February on proposals that could see six of its 14 centres shut, along with cuts to the opening hours of the remaining eight and charges for non household waste.

Several other councils have announced plans to close HWRCs in recent weeks, saying that with the expansion of kerbside collection in recent years, they are not used as much as they were.

Friends of the Earth has warned that closures will have an impact on recycling rates and lead to more waste to landfiill.

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