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Council to axe bring banks to save on waste budget

Shropshire Council is considering the closure of 120 Veolia recycling bring banks across the county in a bid to save £237,000 a year.

Councillors are being urged to vote the closures through at a cabinet meeting on 20 March as its waste services need to cut £1.5m in the 2019/20 financial year.

The council said it needed to make savings and there is no statutory obligation to provide this service. Metal, glass, cans and paper are collected across all the banks, with some sites having additional banks for textiles, liquid cartons and small electrical items (WEEE).

A consultation was held into the proposed change and, while the majority opposed the closures, it also found that most people would be able to find alternative places to take materials, with the exception of small WEEE.

However, a decision has already been made to discontinue the banks for these items by the new producer compliance scheme, following re-tendering.

The council has argued that closure of the bring banks would reduce fly-tipping at the sites and that because materials are often contaminated, diverting it through kerbside collections would result in better quality recyclate.

Contracts manager for waste management Paul Beard said: “Most of the waste can be collected more efficiently by our kerbside collection, and we expect that the household recycling will move to the kerbside service.

“There will be no additional costs on the kerbside collections because the tonnage will be spread among the existing rounds across the county. It is possible that some of the material will find its way into the residual stream, but not in significant quantities.”

Shropshire operates a dry, twin-stream commingled kerbside collection with paper and card on one side and glass, plastics and metals on the other. Household residual waste is processed at an energy recovery facility.

The council said local traders are using the banks to dispose of their business waste when they should be setting up formal waste contracts. Collection crews estimate that this could comprise up to half of all the waste collected from the banks.

The bring bank sites also suffer from fly-tipping with toys, furniture, bags of mixed household waste all being dumped regularly.

Opponents of the plan have said that removing the bring banks will cause more fly-tipping elsewhere across Shropshire, but Beard said: “We do not expect an increase in fly-tipping because there are convenient routes for disposal of materials collected in the banks.

“We expect the trade waste element will be moved to commercial collection services, which is how it should have been dealt with in the first place.”

The one-off cost of removing the bring banks will be £7,000. Waste contract holder Veolia provides the banks, and the council has said it will not incur contractual penalties from removing this element of work from the overall waste contract.

The glass, paper and can banks are serviced by three Veolia vehicles, which each have a driver and a loader. Savings will be made by removing vehicles and eliminating running costs, and redeploying the drivers and loaders to take on work currently done by agency staff.

A six-week consultation including a questionnaire into the removal of the bring banks closed on 25 January, which attracted 270 formal responses along with seven written letters and emails.

Some 75% of respondents indicated that they used the bring banks and 70% said they ’strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the closure decision. A majority (between 55-60%) said that, across materials collected at kerbside, they would find it ‘very easy’, ’quite easy’ or ‘neither’ easy nor difficult to recycle material elsewhere.

However, the survey did highlight an issue with small WEEE, with almost 53% of respondents saying they would find it ’very difficult’ or ’quite difficult’ to find an alternative place to bring them.

Some 51.5% said they would find it ’very difficult’ or ’quite difficult’ to find an alternative place to recycle cartons, with a significant minority (40%) saying the same for textiles.

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