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Affordability stalls recycling ambitions

Wirral Council will need financial assistance from the government, similar to that seen in Wales, if it is to meet the 50% national target for household waste recycling, the Cabinet member for Environment Cllr Phillip Brightmore has warned. 

Whilst the council shares the government’s ambition to see more of the waste we generate at home recycled, Cllr Brightmore says some of the measures that could significantly help local authorities to achieve that goal are simply unaffordable as it stands. 

“Wirral Council now sends less than 10% of its waste to landfill. The vast majority of our waste is now recycled or converted into green energy to power the national grid. This is good, but we must do more," Cllr Brightmore says. 

"It is frustrating that the government and Wirral Council seem to share a desire to make it easier for residents to recycle more, and we even see eye-to-eye on some of the ways we can do that. However, unlike authorities in Wales, we have received no funding towards meeting national targets” says Cllr Brightmore. 

“We believe - as do some senior members of the government - that introducing a food waste collection service would enable the council to hit challenging recycling targets. 

“However, in order to make the changes necessary to introduce this service, we would need to spend around £3 million as a capital investment and then spend around £1.8m per year to run the service on an ongoing basis. 

“Yes, it would see a significant improvement for the local environment, with a lot less going into people’s non-recyclable waste bin, but with local authority finances in the situation they are in, it is simply unaffordable and unjustifiable out of our existing budget to take this forward.” 

It is for that reason, says Cllr Brightmore, that there are currently no plans to make any changes at all to the way household waste is collected in Wirral, although efforts continue to increase recycling in other ways. 

“I keep reading misleading information being circulated that the council in Wirral is going to reduce the frequency of its household waste collections to three-weekly. That is completely and utterly incorrect,” added Cllr Brightmore. 

“I am clear that residents must not be forced to accept fewer bin collections to achieve improved recycling rates – we will not allow that to happen. However, I am committed to finding new ways to make recycling easier for residents and improve current collection arrangements to offer more recycling opportunities, but any changes we propose must be affordable, effective and acceptable to our residents.”