York needs to do better with recycling

Robert Gordon spoke at the Economy and Place decision session at the Council. He said:

I am passionate about increasing recycling rates in York as it is important that we move towards a circular economy that focuses on reuse rather than the throwaway culture that has become far too common. By increasing recycling rates and the range of materials we can recycle, we will be preserving resources that can be repurposed and reused rather than burnt in an incinerator. In this way we will reduce the need for ‘new’ resources to be harvested at the expense of the environment and we will also reduce harmful emissions from the incinerator which, whilst preferable to landfill, isn’t an ideal solution.

At the Environment & Climate Change Decision session earlier this month I spoke on the need for York to be more ambitious with their new waste plans. I still believe that the rationale provided for not increasing the range of recycled plastics is flawed as the Government’s deposit return scheme isn’t going to reduce the need for kerbside plastic recycling. Indeed, the Government’s National Waste & Resources Strategy emphasises that local authorities will be legally required from 2023 to collect a broad range of plastics including food pots and tubs that are generally grade 5 plastic: these are recyclable in other authorities but not York. Why wait two years to ‘catch up’ when we have the opportunity to start now?

From the options being discussed today, I welcome the increase in recycling capacity for residents proposed by Option B. The opportunity to collect batteries and textiles at the kerbside from Option C is also promising, but I am not sure why the Council can’t do both? The extension of green waste collections in Option B should also be welcomed, and I would encourage the Council to go further and provide garden waste collections in inner city areas where residents have expressed a need for them but don’t currently have a green bin. Finally, within each of the options there appears to be a provision for raising awareness to increase recycling rates. It would be great if the Council would consider promoting community initiatives required to tackle food waste if we aren’t going to get dedicated food waste collections, for example, support community composting or groups rescuing and diverting food waste before it goes in the bin. Only with a holistic approach to waste will we successfully increase recycling rates and preserve the environment.

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