Recycling plummets after Welwyn Hatfield Council's brown bins charge, latest figures reveal
PUBLISHED: 18:12 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 25 October 2017
Recycling in Welwyn Hatfield plummeted in the months after the controversial brown bins tax was introduced, latest figures have revealed.
The £35 annual charge for collecting garden waste was forced through by the Conservative-run local authority last January, despite fierce opposition from residents and councillors.
As part of the controversial scheme, residents were told from April they could no longer put food leftovers with garden waste, and were instead asked to place it in black bins, which go to landfill.
Council figures covering April to June this year revealed rubbish sent for reuse, recycling and composting had fallen to 46 per cent, down from 54 per cent during the same period for 2016.
“This is truly shocking, but all so predictable,” Lib Dem councillor Helen Quenet said.
“When the brown bin tax was being discussed last year I said it was common sense that not allowing food waste in the brown bins would reduce recycling levels.
“Not just because of food not being included, but also because of plastics and containers not being recycled.”
Welwyn Hatfield Council also infuriated critics by lowering its recycling target for the period from 53 per cent to 42 per cent, which opposition members claimed reflected its resignation to failure.
But Tory Cllr Helen Bromley, executive member for environment, said the target figure was only lowered in anticipation of not all households subscribing to garden waste collections, which would inevitably result in less waste being sent for composting.
Labour member Max Holloway said: “This money-grabbing Conservative failure has set back recycling, and they still haven’t decided how to stop food waste going to landfill. We’ve pledged to drop this unfair and damaging policy.”
Responding to the criticism, Cllr Bromley said: “What is really encouraging is Welwyn Hatfield residents are now reducing the total amount of waste they produce, [which is] particularly pleasing as reduction is by far the best way of managing waste.
“In the first quarter of this year we collected seven per cent less overall household waste compared with the same period last year.
“That is 748 tonnes less. I want to thank residents for this, and hope we see that trend continue.”
Earlier this month East Herts Council rejected introducing a garden waste collection charge, but neighbouring North Herts backed plans for an annual £40 fee.
It means Tewin and Watton at Stone residents will not pay for their waste to be collected, while those in nearby Codicote and Knebworth will.