SRA and Recycling
The Executive Committee has voted to include the encouragement of Recycling Waste as one of its functions Thus Recycling is a regular item on the agenda for our monthly Committee meetings.
We basically support the existing BFC waste procedures and those of the now well established Re3 Waste Management scheme with some reservations. Re3 is a joint venture by Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell councils to manage our waste. See www.re3.org.uk for more information.
The contract to carry out the work for re3 for next 25 years has been awarded to the WRG Company. See www.wrg.co.uk for more information on this.
Bracknell Forest Council boasts one of the highest percentages of recycling waste in the country at around 70% and expects to continue to exceed the present government targets. Further government pressures are being brought to bear on all councils in the form of more stringent targets, higher landfill charges and progressively increasing fines should the targets not be met.
Alternate Bin Collection (ABC):
Because the SRA firmly believes that it maximises recycling we have indicated our support to Bracknell Forest Council by letter for this scheme which was introduced in October 2006. However, whilst we continue to support ABC in principle we are still pressing for weekly food waste collections as soon as possible since this is the chief objection to ABC.
Re3 and many other councils have been striving to educate residents to not but excess food in the first place and thus reduce the amount of waste. They are also promoting home composting and other food waste recycling actions that can be undertaken at home. Whilst we cannot help but support these campaigns, the problem with smells and vermin will remain, albeit much reduced.
Comingled Recycling Collections:
Because we believe this will also maximise recycling we also support the introduction of the fortnightly collection of comingled recyclables in Blue Wheelie Bins.
Comingled recycling has been made possible by the building of the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at the Smallmead waste facility at Reading. This is able to sort some mixed recyclable materials. It is now possible to put plastic bottles, cans, cardboard and waste paper, all mixed together, in the Blue Wheelie Bin. Keen recyclers thus have an easier time and those less keen have now no excuses!!
A problem that has existed throughout the Re3 collection area since the inception of the Blue Bin has been contamination. Some residents are unable to appreciate that only the following items must be deposited in the Blue Bins:
Plastic Bottles (all kinds), steel and aluminium cans, aerosols, paper, mixed card, cardboard, yellow pages and telephone directories.
Frequently, varied selections of general waste items are discovered at the recycling facility which results in a degradation of the process. What can be placed in the Blue Bin is clearly marked on the label on the lid. Other items must not be put in plastic bags and then put in the Blue Bin.
The MRF is not sufficiently sophisticated to sort out other items such as glass bottles, plastic bags or any plastics other than bottles, aluminium foil or putrescible domestic waste. These contaminants have to be separated out by hand and in extreme cases can even damage the machinery causing expensive down time. Please recycle with care.
Energy from Waste (EFW):
A considerable amount of waste that historically went into landfill is now diverted to the EFW plant in Slough. Here, any combustible material that cannot be economically recycled will be carefully and safely incinerated to generate useful energy. Whilst we support running an EFW facility in principle we will be continuing to press BFC and Re3 to maximise on further recycling first.
The problem with an EFW facility is that once these expensive facilities exist they become fuel hungry and it is very easy to feed them materials that could have been recycled. Remember that combustible material can only be burnt once whereas if we recycle material we can use it repeatedly.
The biggest bone of contention is our inability to recycle all those plastic packaging items other than bottles.
Green Garden Waste:
The green waste collection system using brown biodegradable paper sacks has been quite successful. However, there have been complaints from some residents in respect of the 50p per bag charge.
In addition to the brown bag scheme there is the Brown Wheelie Bin collection scheme. This was originally introduced as a one off cost of £30 to buy a Brown Bin. Subsequently in 2011 BFC, despite protest from the SRA, introduced a charge for a bin as well as an annual collection charge. This results in the current following charges:
Brown Bin 240 litre or 140 litre purchase price £37
Brown Bin 240 litre collection charge £50 Concession £25
Brown Bin 140 litre collection charge £46 Concession £23
Details are on the BFC website www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/home
What can go in the Brown Bin?
Grass clippings, hedge trimmings, tree cuttings, weeds, leaves, bedding plants and flowers.
PLEASE DO NOT PUT THE FOLLOWING ITEMS IN BROWN BINS OR BAGS
Bricks, stones, soil, tree stumps, branches over 3 inches (7.5 cms) in diameter or over 4 feet (1.2m) in length, fruit or vegetables (including peelings), general rubbish, plastic pots or trays, Glass, metal or any animal waste.
What are other Councils doing?
We do know that there is a marked contrast with what Surrey Heath collects from doorsteps compared to BFC. This is something that we have investigated in depth. This link compares us with Surrey Heath and several other surrounding councils. On the face of it Surrey's MRF must be much cleverer than ours! The one thing that we have great trouble in understanding is how they manage to cope with glass being co-mingled with everything else without markedly reducing the value of their recycled materials due to broken glass contamination. At this point we feel we must explain that we support the approach of not offering doorstep collection of glass and aluminium foil, a stance that BFC and Re3 councils have taken.
All glass in re3 areas is collected solely via bottle bank sites/recycling centres. Apart from the obvious hazards of collecting it and sorting it out at an MRF or by hand, mixed glass has a very low value compared with 3 colour sorted glass, which can be used to manufacture new bottles and jars etc. Mixed glass can only be crushed and used for a few things like road aggregate and that consumes more energy to produce a very low value material. It is a poor way to recycle glass by comparison. The doorstep collection of colour sorted glass, however, is simply neither practical nor cost effective. Glass is made from sand and there is no shortage of this raw material – yet!
Within re3 areas this is collected via bottle bank sites/recycling centres because the bins are emptied by various charities who gain a financial benefit by doing so. Also, the type of people who take the trouble to take foil to these sites are the sort of people who bother to clean it properly. If it was collected from our doorsteps almost certainly this would not apply and the value of badly contaminated foil is very low.