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Recycling the Eastleigh way

December 1, 2003 12:00 AM
By Louise Bloom in Challenge
Cllr. Louise Bloom and Eastleigh's Recycling Officers

Cllr. Louise Bloom (left) and Eastleigh's Recycling Officers enforcing the recycling message

Louise Bloom explains how Eastleigh continues to improve its recycling record

At Liberal Democrat-controlled Eastleigh Borough Council we are rightly proud of the fact we have the second highest recycling rates in the country and the highest rate for recycling dry recyclables.

We have achieved this by having alternate weekly collections of recyclable and non-recyclable waste, whereby residents separate out their waste and put all types of paper, card, some plastics and cans in a green bin and other waste in a grey bin. They get collected on alternate weeks and we have 100% participation, as we don't collect waste any other way!

We also encourage home composting and have now issued over 15,000 home composters; we have plenty of bring sites for glass, textiles and other recyclable materials and back this up with an on-going promotion and education campaign.

However our success means that the recycling targets set for us by the government; 33% for 2003/4 and 40% for 2005/6, are all the harder to achieve.

You might think that we are starting to run out of ways to increase our recycling rates and achieve these targets. However this year we have launched two major initiatives to ensure we do hit our targets.

Until now garden waste has been collected separately but has not been good enough quality for composting so has gone to landfill. But this is all set to change following a successful bid to the Waste Minimisation Fund. A collection vehicle, a Rotopress RCV, has been bought which, because of its cylindrical design, ensures that when garden waste is delivered to Hampshire's composting facility the material is still in top condition.

Residents will be able to purchase a large re-useable sack for £12 a year, which will be collected on a set day 52 weeks a year. The scheme was launched in a test area, where 50% of the borough's green waste is generated, at the end of June and is expected to be very popular - adding 8% to our recycling rate.

However, we certainly don't want to discourage home composting and we will still be providing home composters for those able to do that, although sadly home composting is not counted as part of our recycling figures!

The second initiative will encourage more glass recycling. A vehicle has been purchased which is able to pick up smaller-sized collection bins, about 240 l, the same size as our larger wheelie bins. These bins will be located in sites unsuitable for the large bottle banks and will be dotted around places people visit regularly such as local shops and open spaces. They will enable people to drop off smaller quantities of glass hopefully within walking distance of their homes when otherwise they might have just put the glass in their black bins at home.

Via FOCUS we asked for suggestions as to suitable sites for these mini-recycling centres and had a very good response. The vehicle is also able to collect mixed glass, so instead of visiting the same sites three times, it will go around more sites once. We anticipate this will make a real difference to our recycling figures and hopefully take most glass out of the waste stream.

Ultimately we would like to offer doorstep collection of glass, so people have no excuses for putting it in their grey bins, but we're not quite there yet.

Our next line of attack will be textiles and shoes. We already have recycling banks provided by the Salvation Army and are starting to get out the message that all of these items are reusable, repairable or recyclable, whatever their condition.

Promotion and education has always been a key element of our success so last year it was decided to develop this further by setting up a project in one part of the borough to work with local people, community organisations and the Parish Councils to encourage and develop new ideas for increasing recycling.

The project was launched at a well-attended public meeting and a working group set up supported by our Recycling Officer. The Community Waste Action Project (CWAP) represents one refuse collection round so we are able to monitor the success of the project on an on-going basis. We expect that lessons learnt can be applied elsewhere in the borough possibly with other communities following the CWAP formula.

We are confident that the combination of these new initiative plus our on-going commitment to recycling will ensure that Eastleigh achieves and exceeds our recycling targets maintaining our position at the top of the recycling table.

If you would like any further information on recycling the Eastleigh way or advice on how we could help your council, do get in touch.