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York could miss recycling targets

York City Council could miss its household recycling targets this year and send more to landfill, claims a report to be considered today by the council’s Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

It says that waste targets for residual household waste and recycling “look unlikely” to be met.

The report, written by the director for communities and neighbourhoods and the director of city and environmental services, added that for 2012/13 the council was underperforming against the regional or national average. The rate of waste currently diverted from landfill is 47%.

Although the overall residual levels of waste have reduced, the proportion sent to landfill is forecast to increase. The council is expected to pay almost £3m in landfill tax in the third quarter of the year, up 12.5% on the previous year.

Liberal Democrat member of the Community Safety and Scrutiny Committee Keith Orrell, said that the performance was “disturbing” and called for urgent action to reverse the decline in recycling rates.

He said: “When the Lib Dems were running the Council we increased the recycling rate from 12% to 45% mainly by making it easier for residents to recycle and constantly saying how important recycling is.”

York City Council (Lab) declined to comment on the report’s conclusion that it was unlikely to meet recycling targets.

But the local authority highlighted its ongoing consultation on waste strategy, launched last month to help reach a target of 50% recycling by 2020.

Proposals include introducing a charge for garden waste collections, or combining it with a food waste collection. The council said that research showed that only 18% of garden waste was collected in the five months from November to March. Changing opening hours to the Towthorpe Household Waste Recycling Centre is also proposed.

The council said that it aimed to make savings of around £580,000 from 2011/12 and 2012/13 from changes.

Announcing the proposals last month, David Levene, cabinet member for York council’s environmental services, said: “We are committed to providing the best possible service to residents and businesses, and recognise that to achieve this we need to listen closely to their views as part of this consultation. However, we need to be honest with the public and given the challenging financial situation facing the council a review of all services is essential.”

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