A local authority in Hampshire is seeking legal advice after the county council announced that it would bill local councils for contaminated recycling.
Hampshire County Council has announced that it will start charging district and borough councils if the wrong items end up in recyclable waste.
The county council said that one in every five lorry loads of kerbside recycling that arrives at its facilities fails to meet recycling standards.
Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire CC, argued that the move would help save the authority money and drive recycling improvements in local areas.
‘In terms of recycling, we know that our household waste recycling centres achieve a much higher rate than kerbside bins collected by district councils – in the national recycling league tables, not one district council in Hampshire is in the top half. This demonstrates that there is considerable room for improvement,’ he said.
Fareham Borough Council, however, argues that the problem is the county council’s ‘outdated’ recycling facilities.
‘Whilst Fareham Borough Council enjoys one of the lowest levels of contamination of recycled material in Hampshire, the current Materials Recycling Facilities(MRF) that HCC [Hampshire County Council] operates under contract with Veolia are outdated and unable to collect several recyclable materials that are commonly collected in other parts of the country. This can cause confusion for residents,’ said Cllr Simon Martin, the executive member for Streetscene.
‘A typical example is plastic pots, tubs and trays. These items are often clearly labelled as “recyclable” and are collected in many areas of the UK but cannot be recycled at HCC facilities. When residents put this material in their recycling bins, it is classed as “contamination” by HCC.’
According to letsrecycle.com, Hampshire County Council recycled 41.7% of household waste in 2017/18 and was ranked 194. Fareham BC, which recycles 34% of household waste, came it at 274.
Cllr Martin said that Hampshire CC’s decision to start charging local councils for contaminated recycling was ‘unexpected’ and taken without prior consultation.
He added that it would cost the borough council approximately £500,000 per year.
‘Fareham Borough Council is currently seeking legal advice to clarify whether or not this action complies with current legislation,’ Cllr Martin continued.
‘Fareham Borough Council has been engaging with HCC and all the other Hampshire authorities in the Project Integra Partnership about opportunities to increase recycling rates and reduce contamination in light of the Government’s recently published waste and resources strategy.
‘There was never any indication that HCC was intending to cease to pay the council its contribution for the sale of recyclables and recycling credits.’