Council to fine people who refuse to recycle
By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 09:27
Householders who consistently refuse to recycle their rubbish could be issued with a £75 fine.
North Somerset Council says it will implement the fines as a last resort for those who bin items which could have been recycled in with their general rubbish.
The move follows 'sampling' of refuse bags from homes across the district.
Black refuse sacks which were collected from properties by council waste contractors were opened and checked to see if any of the rubbish could have been recycled.
The fines threat is part of an ongoing package of measures to increase recycling rates across the district.
North Somerset is the second best unitary authority for recycling in the country and the best in the south west and currently recycles around 61 per cent of its rubbish.
North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt said: "We want to take positive action to encourage people to recycle more.
"We have carried out some sample testing on black sacks to see if they contained items which could be recycled.
"Those failing to recycle could face enforcement action and be issued with a fine.
"However this would be something that we would only do as a last resort and is not a route we particularly want to take.
"We would much rather focus on how we can help people to recycle and give them every opportunity to do so."
The authority says the recycling problems are at their worst in urban areas where there are flats developments and residents do not have the space to separate and store their recycling and rubbish.
It is now considering setting up 'mini recycling centres' in these areas, with dedicated banks for rubbish and recycling.
Leaflets will also be put through doors advising people on how to recycle and in some cases residents may be visited at home by council staff who will offer help and advice.
Mrs Briffitt added: "We appreciate that some people have problems with storing their recycling and are looking at setting up mini recycling centres to help tackle this.
"Because of this problem people often put all their rubbish in a black sack and leave it out for collection.
"We are currently recycling 61 per cent of all our waste which is fantastic and we want to say thank you to everyone for making such an effort.
"But there is still work to be done and we are keen to get everyone on board."
The move comes just weeks after the authority revealed its staff at tips would be checking black sacks taken to its three recycling centres.
The move followed research which revealed up to 50 per cent of rubbish in black bags taken to the tips could actually be recycled.
The checks of the bags will only be done at the recycling centres and not as part of the roadside collections.
In 2011-12, the council recycled 61,261 tonnes of waste, compared to just 22,164 tonnes in 2005-6 - an increase of 177 per cent.
The amount of waste sent to landfill has also reduced by two thirds over the same period from nearly 80,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes.
The amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill each year has reduced by 70 per cent from 62,000 tonnes to 19,000 tonnes and the council has seen the amount it pays in landfill reduce by £7.8 million in six years.
As well as checking rubbish taken to recycling centres the authority is also planning to work with supermarkets to reduce the amount of packaging and also look at increasing the types of items - including plastics - which can be recycled.
There are also plans to increase recycling collections and flats and change the green waste collection service from sacks to wheelie bins to reduce the amount of green waste put out for collection.
Currently the authority collects food and recycling each week, with fortnightly collections of household waste and green waste.