Recycling in Welwyn Hatfield plummets 10% after brown bin tax launch

PUBLISHED: 12:55 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 14 August 2018

Welwyn Hatfield Council brown bin

Welwyn Hatfield Council brown bin

Alan Davies

Critics are demanding a free food waste collection service after recycling in Welwyn Hatfield plunged nearly 10 per cent.

The overall rate fell to 43.5 per cent between April 2017 and March 2018 compared to 53 per cent the previous year, whilst residual waste sent to landfill rose from 18,323 tonnes to 21,312.

Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Gibson pinpointed the borough council’s brown bin tax, introduced in April 2017, as a pivotal factor behind the “unacceptable” figures.

The scheme involves charging residents for brown bin collections, and initially required them to put food leftovers in black bins before a policy U-turn in November.

Cllr Gibson said: “At the time of the proposed change hundreds of people voiced concerns about the environmental impact.

“But the Conservatives voted unanimously to ignore those concerns and rushed through the change without proper consultation and planning.

“As a result, this council sent 15 per cent more residual waste to landfill in the past year.”

According to the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership’s figures, composting dropped 36.7 per cent in the borough while dry recycling fell 1.5 per cent.

Welwyn Hatfield’s overall recycling rate decrease of 9.5 per cent was by far the largest in Hertfordshire, with Stevenage’s 1.9 per cent drop the second worst.

It places the borough council seventh out of 10 local authorities for recycling rates.

A council spokeswoman attributed the drop in composting to the paid-for garden waste collection service, as well as the severe winter and low temperatures between February and March.

She added: “As the garden waste service becomes more established, we are confident that our composting rate will increase, and we have already collected 350 tonnes more garden waste in Q1 [April to June] this year compared to last year.

“Some residents are also choosing to home compost their garden and food waste, which has helped to reduce the total amount of waste we are collecting at the kerbside.”

Opposition councillors urged the council to reinvest in a free food waste collection service.

The council spokeswoman said it is procuring a new waste contract for April 2020, in which different food waste collection methods will be reviewed.

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