Medway Council has decided against a switch from commingled household recyclables despite the prospect of substantial savings.
The council had wanted to reduce contaminated waste by requiring residents to separate paper and card from other materials, a move a cabinet report said would save some £339,000 a year.
But despite this large potential saving, cabinet members held back from this step for fear that uncollected bags of waste would be left around the area as residents refused to re-sort materials.
They decided that if residents failed to separate paper from other waste “they will be contacted by council officers to explain the service. Whilst this dialogue is ongoing, waste will not be left on the street”.
A council spokesman said: “All recycling waste left out on the kerbside will be collected as now.
“Our preference, as agreed at this week’s cabinet meeting, is to educate residents through an ongoing campaign about why it is important to separate, not least because of the added cost to the council and ultimately the tax payer.”
The issue arose after the council successfully bid for £14m from the government’s Weekly Collection Support Scheme to increase collections of recyclables to weekly from fortnightly.
Contractor Veolia had “raised concerns over the continued collection of fully commingled materials [which] a high proportion of residents continue to present”, a cabinet report said.
It said transportation and sorting of fully commingled material cost Medway £34.03 per tonne, but “this price assumed full separation and is not sustainable for the contractor if they are required to continue manual sorting”.
The report said: “Waste services are proposing a service stance that will cease the collection of fully commingled materials.”
Had this recommendation been accepted, commingled waste would have been refused from October following “an extensive communication campaign”.
Offending bags of mixed materials would have had notes fixed to them by collectors and “left for the resident to re-sort and the address reported to Waste Services”.