Living the new Waste Strategy - what difference will it make?
Brent Friends of the Earth (FoE) severely criticised Brent Council’s new waste strategy at Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 30th November. The group presented their own strategy to the Council instead, and argued that the new system would lead to export of waste, loss of jobs, and that the consultation was highly misleading.
Brent’s Lead Member for the Environment, Councillor James Powney, and two Council Officers were brought before the committee to defend their proposals at a special meeting called by the Lib Dems. Plans for Brent’s new waste strategy, which had been put out to public consultation, and reductions in the Council’s street cleansing service, which had not, were discussed.
Brent FoE has expressed major concerns about the new waste system, which would introduce a "co-mingled” (mixed) collection of recyclable waste to houses, as opposed to the current system, where materials are sorted at the kerbside. Elaine Henderson from the group presented evidence that Aylesford Newsprint, the company who currently purchase Brent’s paper, would no longer do so since the new co-mingled collection would mean a more contaminated and poor-quality product. This raises major concerns about the destination of Brent’s recycled waste and the revenue raised from its collection. Another waste contractor, May Gurney, can offer a kerbside sorted collection system at the same price or cheaper than a commingled collection, because the value of the materials collected is much higher.
Elaine Henderson, Brent FoE’s spokesperson on waste said, “Brent’s new plans mean we will be going from the best method of collecting recyclable waste to the very worst. The system we have now is not only more cost-effective, but it is also better for local jobs and the environment.
“We do not believe Brent can possibly achieve the huge increases in recycling that this strategy demands by the methods proposed. It is a complete waste of money for the Council to be spending a massive £1.7 million on new large wheelie bins just to collect additional mixed plastics and tetra-packs, when they could simply re-educate residents to use the current system instead.
“These changes mean that the company who take Brent’s paper would lose their contract, and we would get less money for our recycled waste. I was shocked to hear Cllr Powney, who had previously stated our waste would be processed in the UK and Europe, now admit he was not bothered where it will end up. I also question the impact of this new system on our carbon emissions.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Paul Lorber said, “Our colleagues from Brent Friends of the Earth have clearly shown that ending the green box system and sorting of recyclable materials on the kerb side would be a mistake. We need to protect UK jobs by ensuring that materials collected in Brent are capable of being used by the UK recycling Industry. I would be appalled if, as a result of the proposals agreed by Brent Labour Councillors running the Executive, recyclable materials collected locally were being shipped 5,000 miles to China with all the resultant environmental pollution that transportation would cause.”
Elaine Henderson stated that previous mention of the possibility of a judicial review over the Council’s misleading consultation was raised by her as Chair of a Residents’ Association, and not on behalf of Brent FoE.
The Committee voted that recommendations be referred back for further consideration by the Council’s Executive Committee, which is due to meet on December 13th.