Brent Council guidance
Opposition and backbench councillor's are able to ask questions of Lead Members at Brent Full Council. The answers are published in advance and the questioner has one minute to ask a follow-up question live. Suggestions for follow-up questions welcomed in comments below the article.
Question from Councillor Hirani to Councillor Krupa Sheth (Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure & Climate Action):
Given the serious concerns being raised by residents across the borough with regards to the Blue Bag Recycling Scheme will the Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure and Climate Action agree to commission an independent report on the roll out of the scheme and its financial implications. It does not appear that this scheme has been properly thought through and should
therefore be suspended until a full investigation and report can be provided to Full Council. This is strongly backed by an e-Petition with over 2000 signatures demanding the scheme be cancelled.
In advance of this, can the Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure and Climate Action also address the following operational issues:
We have seen a 50% increase in tonnage of paper and cardboard collected through October, the first month of the new service. By removing paper and cardboard from the dry mixed recycling stream, contamination is at a low 1%.
The higher quality of paper and cardboard collected results in higher rates of fibre recycled. Further data and results will take at least 12 weeks to spot any additional trends.
It is important to note that recycling, even if rejected due to high contamination, does not go to landfill; any rejections are sent to an energy recovery facility.
(1) How is it possible to keep these bags dry during the rain events we have had recently?
The blue sack is weighted at the bottom to avoid it being blown away and is weatherproof when the lid is fully sealed using the Velcro strips, to protect the contents inside. Please ensure the lid is sealed. Any faulty/leaking sacks will be replaced free of charge.
(2) Where are residents expected to store these bags?
The sack can be folded and stored inside when not in use or kept outside by your other bins where there is space to do so. Residents can choose whether to store their sack indoors or outdoors, so long as it is presented at the kerbside on the scheduled collection day.
We appreciate that not all residents will have space to store their blue sack indoors. We advise those residents to transfer their paper and flattened cardboard to the blue sack at their convenience, as they have previously done with their blue lidded recycling bin, placing it between other bin containers.
(3) What is expected to happen to cardboard and paper when these bags are full? Should this be placed into the Blue/Black Bin?
If the paper and cardboard sack becomes full, residents may present any excess paper and card in a bundle next to their sack on collection day.
Please do not place paper and card in your blue-lidded recycling bin, as collections crews will be instructed not to collect these bins on the same week as the blue sack.
Residents are advised not leave any excess cardboard out alongside their sack when rain or strong winds are predicted. Instead, we are advising those residents who continuously have more paper and cardboard for one blue sack, to order an additional sack. Residents can order a second bag or additional bags
(4) Residents in flats do not have these blue bags so what are they expected to do with their cardboard and paper?
Those in flats with shared communal bins are not part of the changes and will continue to use the large recycling bins for mixed recycling, which is being collected separately to kerbside properties.
(5) Was training given to Veolia when dealing with these blue bags as it appears that on some occasions the cardboard/ paper has been blown around and not collected?
Training has been given to collection staff ahead of the recycling collections with further training and monitoring ongoing with collection issues occurring and being reported to Veolia.
(6) How much does this scheme cost and are there any actual savings?
Can you show the figures?
The change to alternate weekly twin stream recycling collections for street level households was estimated to save the council £1.2m per annum on annual disposal costs for waste when compared to the weekly comingled recycling collection (where all recycling goes in one bin).
We will be monitoring the impact of the service in the coming weeks and months in order to assess the impact of the service change on our recycling and saving targets.
Concern over the changes to the recycling system caused Willesden Green Residents Association to hold a public meeting on the issue.
Association Planning Representative, Sonia Locke, said:
Everyone is pretty dissatisfied and it will be a year until anything changes. I think what we know so far is that people want to recycle and separate recycables, but this is not the way to do it. This system is simply not working.