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Strike saw Birmingham miss waste targets

Birmingham City Council has admitted its waste performance is “off track” partly because of last year’s lengthy strike by refuse collectors.

Birmingham suffered two months of bin strikes after the Unite union disputed the council issuing more than 100 redundancy notices.

A report to its cabinet on performance from April to December last year said 15% of waste was sent to landfill against a target of 10%, while missed bin collections stood at 79 per 100,000, well above the target level of 52.

The report said use of landfill had increased last summer when an energy recovery facility (ERF) had to be taken out of service, while “industrial action severely impacted the collection services in July, August and September, dramatically reducing the amount of segregated recycling collected and thus increasing the residual proportion of the overall waste handled”.

But it added that no waste other than ash from the ERF went to landfill in December “and if this continues then this indicator should improve”.

Birmingham is collecting 408kg of residual waste per household, slightly better than its 418kg target.

The city’s recycling rate remained at 22% as the strike “severely impacted the collection services…disproportionally affecting recycling services dramatically, reducing the amount of segregated recycling collected”. Composting had also “dramatically reduced” with the end of garden waste collections.

Birmingham has elections in May, and the Liberal Democrat opposition group has called for city waste collection services to be split into three eight-year contracts tendered by area.

Council group leader Jon Hunt said: “The aim is that the city is no longer held hostage either by over-powerful private companies or by powerful trade unions.”

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