Plastic bank petition response highlights importance of recycling
But the council has also highlighted the importance of real recycling in a response to a petition to reinstate plastic banks in the borough following their removal.
The petition requesting the borough’s mixed plastic recycling points to be reinstated and an action plan to increase recycling developed was submitted by the Basingstoke Transition Network, with over 751 signatures.
The mixed plastic collection banks across the borough were closed on Thursday 18 October by the council after the contractor Printwaste explained there was no market for this material and it could no longer be recycled. Instead the lower-grade plastic items put in the banks – such as yoghurt pots, tubs, trays and other food packaging would be driven north to be incinerated.
Plastic bottles, which are of a higher quality, still continue to be recycled as there is a market for what is collected from the kerbside in the borough to be turned into other things.
Now the council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and the Environment Cllr Hayley Eachus has made her response to the petition public, in light of the public interest in the issue.
As the portfolio holder responsible for recycling in the borough, Cllr Eachus expressed her disappointment that it has been necessary to close and remove the mixed plastic recycling banks. These had been in the borough since 2014 at 10 different sites and have been popular with residents.
Responding to the lead petitioner Martin Heath, representing the Basingstoke Transition Network, Cllr Eachus said: “The problem we are now facing and the reason why these banks are being closed is that the market for recycled, lower-grade mixed plastic in the UK is now at capacity. As a consequence it is not possible to recycle the mixed plastic that is being collected.
“As all the council’s waste is incinerated at the energy recovery facility at Chineham, collecting mixed plastics separately does not deliver any benefit and, indeed, has the disadvantages of generating additional vehicle movements (so increasing particulate and carbon emissions) and increasing costs. It would be irresponsible for the council to continue to operate the mixed plastic recycling banks.”
However, Cllr Eachus has promised that the council will continue to monitor the market and the reintroduction of mixed plastic banks, and options for future collection at the kerbside, will be considered if the situation changes.
A campaign to encourage people in the borough to use less plastic by giving information on the alternatives has started and Cllr Eachus and the council’s waste and recycling team will be urging local supermarkets to use less plastic packaging and giving views to feed into the Government’s Waste and Resources Strategy.
The petition also requested an action plan to address the borough’s recycling rate. An action plan to increase recycling rates is already being developed through the new joint waste collection contract with Hart District Council and Serco and a joint action plan to increase recycling rates is being developed.
Cllr Eachus said: “Increasing the recycling rate for the borough is a priority. As the Cabinet Member and Chair of Project Integra, a partnership on waste and recycling across Hampshire, I am very keen to ensure that the council does all it can to increase the range of materials that can be recycled, encourage people to put all the right things that can be recycled into their green bins rather than it going in their grey bins as waste.”