Next month the Memorandum of Understanding between the Community Recycling Network (CRN) and the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) will celebrate its second birthday. Much championed at its inception by the then Environment Minister Michael Meacher, the document pledged the two organisations to work together towards common goals and to communicate on matters of joint importance.
Critically, the CRN enjoys an element of Government funding and several local authorities have made community liaison projects a core element of their overall recycling strategies. So have they and the schemes benefited from the agreement?
Certainly a number of councils have implemented joint ventures with charity and community-based organisations, and the experiences of most have shown and continue to show positive results.
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is a case in point. Its waste collection service has 13 dedicated rounds collecting plastic sacks from domestic premises, with a further four rounds collecting containerised waste from both commercial and domestic premises. The waste disposal service is concentrated around a 25-year-long waste-to-energy contract.
Martin Engineering Systems operates an incineration plant at the councils main depot. The plant produces electricity that is exported into the local grid network.
The council has expanded its kerbside recycling across the borough through its successful £1.5million bid to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the use of community liaison. The money will be used to roll out a borough-wide doorstep scheme, which collects residents newspapers, magazines and junk mail, glass bottles and jars, and food and drink cans for recycling. It was launched last April and currently covers 38,000 households across the borough. The additional money will be used for the expansion of the scheme across the borough and will fund extra vehicles, crews and support staff, as well as thousands of additional black collection boxes. As part of this strategy, the council has been supporting the development of a kerbside recycling collection scheme DNB Recycling.
DNB is a community-based, not-for-profit company established five years ago with council and European funding support, to create new jobs for long-term unemployed, and to offer a kerbside recycling collection service. DNB Recycling is currently working in partnership with the council to deliver a kerbside collection scheme for glass, cans, and newspapers and magazines on a fortnightly basis. The service will be expanded to 50,000 households following the arrival of four DEFRA-funded recycling vehicles next month. The scheme will gradually expand to cover the whole borough.
This initiative has so far been successful in achieving its primary goals, to deliver kerbside recycling and to help local, previously unemployed residents gain employment, says Graham Bailey, head of waste care at Dudley. There is a cultural difference in dealing with this type of project compared with our commercial contractors in that it is a softer relationship and more of a true partnership.
This summer will see the Box-It! kerbside recycling scheme run by Lewes District Council begin a further phase to extend the service to all the coastal towns in the district. Already up and running in Lewes, Ringmer, Kingston, Newhaven and parts of Seaford, the scheme is planned to take in all domestic houses (although not flats) that can be easily reached, between East Saltdean and Seaford by the end of the year.
Government grants totalling almost £1 million have been won by the council from DEFRA to roll out the phases of the recycling scheme over two years. Six new electric vehicles have been ordered and 13 new staff have been employed. Ten mini-recycling bring sites will also be installed during the year. The Box-It! scheme offers recycling of plastic bottles, cans, foil and paper in two specially provided boxes for fortnightly collection.