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Barnet drops food waste collections and bring centres

The London Borough of Barnet plans to abandon food waste recycling, despite a requirement under London mayor Sadiq Khan’s environment strategy for separate food waste collections by 2020.

Barnet will also drop its remaining bring centres, winter garden waste collections and charge for lost recycling containers.

A paper for the council’s environment committee said Barnet still intended “to ensure the authority fully contributes to the regional 2020 target of 50% across London”.

According to the report by committee chair Dean Cohen, food waste collection cost £300,000 a year for around 5,000 tonnes, equating to £60 for per tonne collected.

The report said: “The proposal is that food waste should be placed in the black bins. This residual waste does not go to landfill but is taken to an energy-from-waste facility to be used as fuel for electricity generation.”

Food waste could not be mixed with composting under health rules, he added.

Cohen’s report said that only 25-30% of residents participated in food waste collections weekly, mainly because of concerns about vermin accessing bins, “the expectation that compostable liners should be provided by the council” and ease of use of residual waste containers.

Bring banks would also be scrapped due to lack of use, Barnet said. Only 16 of the original 80 remained, and closing them would lose 281 tonnes of recyclable materials, equivalent to only 0.2% of the total.

“There is evidence to suggest that these sites are used illegally by businesses to dispose of recyclables and avoid commercial waste contracts,” the report said.

Garden recycling would be suspended for three winter months, saving £80,000.

Barnet would charge for replacement recycling and waste containers as the council spent £315,984 on these last year, which Cohen called “financially unsustainable”.

Unless bins were damaged through fair wear and tear or lost by the council, they would “need to be replaced at the resident’s cost, including by residents who have moved into a property where the bins have been taken by the previous residents”, the report said.

Alan Schneiderman, the Labour opposition’s environment spokesperson, said: “The plans were clearly drawn up before the [May] election but kept secret until now.”

Barnet has already been hit by a political dispute about missed collections caused by over-running works at its depot.

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