Taxpayer could be hit by recycling law changeBy Lucy Thorne
September 11, 2012
Taxpayers could pay the price for a ruling which will force councils to send leaves collected from the roadsides in Bracknell Forest to landfill.
The Environment Agency has decreed that leaves collected from the roads can no longer be composted as they may have been contaminated by exhaust fumes or substances like oil or petrol dripping on them from cars.
Councils will now have to send them to landfill, which could hit the borough’s excellent recycling levels and lead to huge fines.
Councils are punished if they send too much rubbish to dumps and staff at the council are concerned they could be hit if they exceed the levels stated by the Government.
Councillor Paul Bettison, leader of the council said: “We are working on a solution, but it’s a bit of an odd decision to me.
“My question would be whether it also applies to grass cuttings from our roadside verges and roundabouts.
“We are extremely proud of our recycling levels and how the people of Bracknell have taken to recycling and will work on keeping our levels low.”
A spokesman for Re3 the council’s recycling partnership with Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council said: “The re3 councils previously collected street sweepings, sorted them and then arranged for them to be composted.
“This was something that many councils across the country did as there is a significant organic content in street sweepings, particularly in the autumn and winter.
“However, the Environment Agency issued guidance which brought the practice of composting street sweepings to an end.
“The report by Bracknell Forest Borough Council simply records the facts and indicates that we are keen, as a council partnership, to avoid sending to landfill waste that had previously been composted into a useful product and we are working with the re3 contractor to investigate other ways of diverting this material away from landfill.”
A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency added: “The guidance on street sweepings is essentially a reminder of what should constitute good practice.
“Street sweepings can contain particulates associated with vehicular emissions resulting in contamination of compost quality.”
Bracknell recorded its best levels of recycling earlier in the year and Cllr Bettison said Cllr Dorothy Hayes, executive member for environment, and staff were ‘always looking at new ways’ to improve the service.
However, he admitted there was very little money available to introduce new collections like glass and food waste.