Ray Dawe: Recycling – it’s not just a load of old rubbish

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It is really good to see how our householders in Horsham District have helped the council to achieve the highest recycling rate in the whole of West Sussex – an impressive accolade.

While we always seek new ways to recycle more, there is now a new challenge facing us. Changes in legislation mean that all councils must ‘prove’ that their recycling systems achieve the highest standards and Horsham needs to join all other councils in looking at this.

For many years we have worked closely with the county council to develop our excellent recycling system. This planning and investment enables us to operate a simple system with just one ‘blue top’ container – unlike some councils where householders face the challenge of having to pre-sort their waste into six or seven different containers.

These new regulations assume that material is collected in a number of separate bins to achieve high recycling standards and so we must prove that our system achieves these standards without the need to change.

Improving recycling helps contribute to an economy based on the use of recycled materials rather than the use of fresh raw materials. The new legislation fails to recognise that in places like Horsham District we already have a high quality, simple system for recycling that we know works extremely well and is popular.

Horsham District Council is asking all residents to continue to work with us to further enhance our recycling services and to collect material that can be processed back into high quality ‘new’ products.

I believe that we have a system that is easy to use and one which has been fully embraced by our residents. The challenge now is to do our very best to avoid putting any non-recyclable material into the ‘blue top’ bin while maintaining high recycling levels. If the council empties any ‘blue top’ bins which contain non-recyclable items then this contamination can adversely affect the whole truck load. If a load is refused at the recycling plant then instead of being recycled, the whole load is sent to landfill. To focus everyone’s attention on this, we are embarking on a new programme of communications to residents, reminding people what can and cannot be recycled. We will be sending leaflets to all households in the coming weeks and then following this up with a long term programme of information funded through a grant from central government.

In addition, a blue hanger is being placed on any bins that our collection teams find contains materials that cannot be recycled and to explain the problem to that householder. If you find one of these and your bin is not collected then we are asking you to take out the non-recyclable items before the next collection and put them in your landfill bin.

I appreciate that this may be frustrating for those affected, especially given the huge public effort to help, but it is necessary to act quickly and we are doing all we can to help residents to recycle more. As part of this, it is very important to ensure that all your ‘blue top’ recycling is clean, dry and loose in your bin and not tied up in plastic bags. In particular, it should not include any garden waste, general rubbish (including plastic bottle tops, bags and containers), shredded paper, paper towels, food or electrical items.

By working together, we aim to demonstrate that our recycling is among the very best in the country and that we meet the high standards set in the new regulations.

Horsham District Council, working with our partners at county level, is continually trying to increase the number of materials that can be recycled. Our aim is to keep our easy collection system and continue trying to increase the range of materials that can be recycled.