The Waste & Resources Action Programme has made a dangerous sweeping statement on commingled collections without serious foundations, said Local Government Association chairman Paul Bettison.
Last week, WRAP published the report Choosing the right recycling system, and said that commingled collections of recycling are the worst option for local authorities and sorting household recycling at the kerbside was the best and cheapest option (see MRW story).
Speaking to MRW Local Government Association chairman Paul Bettison said: They [WRAP] have made a bit of a sweeping statement. The report doesnt take into account that one size doesnt fit all. It is all very well to say that commingled is terrible and we should source segregate at kerbside but in some areas this is not possible. In some cases, households may not even participate in recycling if they have to put their recycling in four or five containers.
If you live in a flat, for example, or terraced house there will be no space for all those containers. What will they do with all those multi-coloured Daleks on the pavement?
These sorts of sweeping statements without serious foundations are dangerous. Suddenly, some councils who went down the commingled route will be thinking Oh my God did I do the right thing? These sorts of reports can be necessarily simplistic. If we lived in nirvana you could source separate all of your recycling.
Bettison also said that it was notoriously difficult for residents with high student populations to recycle more because it was even difficult to get them to put rubbish in the refuse bin.
He explained: The report has almost trivialised a very important argument. A very important argument has to be had at a number of levels.
Bettison added the report will bring benefits if it gets people debating. He said: We need people to constantly challenge what we do. Technology is moving at a fast pace and we need to constantly revisit the choices that we make, earlier on, in light of a better understanding.
A Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee spokeswoman said: LARAC do not feel that there is a one solution fits all; a collection system that works well in rural community may not be suitable for high density inner city housing and we would not seek to prescribe the system or processes the local authority should use. Saying this, LARAC welcomes the report produced by WRAP and encourages methods of good practice that raise the quality of recyclate produced, minimises reject rates and keeps costs low.
Newcastle City Council has just put a commingled recycling collection into operation.
Head of Sustainability Unit Les Clark said: We have just implemented a new commingled collection service across the city which has increased recycling rates from the previous source separated system by around 80 per cent. Participation rates are up and we have not experienced any significant difficulties in respect of contamination.