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Come Clean on Mixed Waste in West Berkshire, says Royce Longton

January 19, 2009 12:00 PM

The Liberal Democrats in West Berkshire have learned that the Council's waste contractor, Veolia, is using Partially Segregated Recovery Vehicles (PSRVs) on three of its eight collection routes.

Use of these vehicles involves mixing together and compacting the various types of waste material set out by householders for recycling, in contrast to vehicles used on the other five routes where the different types of recyclables are kept separate.

The usual excuse is being trotted out again: the amount of waste set out for recycling has exceeded all expectations and the Contractor has insufficient capacity to the meet this demand.

Mixing the recyclates increases contamination, thereby reducing the proportion of the material that can be recycled and increasing the proportion sent to landfill. In its Press Release of 23 December 2008 the Council claimed that only 1.7% of the recyclates collected were contaminated. However, that figure refers to a period early in the operation of the contract with Veolia when all the collections routes were covered by vehicles able to keep the various waste streams separate. The average contamination rate is likely to be higher now.

Material from the PSRVs is sent to a Materials Recovery Facility in Hampshire where the overall rejection rate is 5%, but the figure for the recyclable waste specifically from the West Berkshire PSRVs is unknown. It is planned that PSRVs will continue to be used on three routes, as at present, until the planned waste facility at Padworth is up and running.

"This is a very unsatisfactory situation" said Dr Royce Longton of Burghfield Ward, Lib Dem Spokesman on Waste Management. "It must be very frustrating for residents who have taken the trouble to separate their recyclables, as the Council has requested, to see them all mixed together again when collected from their homes. The use of PSRVs should be discontinued immediately if at all possible. If not, residents of the collection routes concerned should be told that there is no need, at present, for them to separate their glass, their waste paper and cardboard, and their cans and plastic bottles. It is also vital that these residents are reassured that the bulk of the waste they set out for recycling will be recycled, even though the rejection rate may be higher than if the two streams were kept separate."