Black Country councils join forces on recycling

Wolverhampton City Council plans to arrange waste imports for the local 105,000 tonne incinerator from other Black Country authorities. The scheme will enable the Council to reach government recycling targets, and has emerged following an Audit Commission report criticising Wolverhampton’s “low” recycling rates.

“Wolverhampton is an incinerator authority,” explained Mark Rowley, director of waste and environmental services. “We favoured incineration when we signed an energy from waste contract 10 years ago and it’s a major consideration until it expires in 2023.”

The authority plans to work alongside the three other Black Country councils, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell to achieve the Government’s recycling targets. A joint regional strategy is expected in the autumn.

Wolverhampton handles 140,000 tonnes of its own waste, of which 100,000 tonnes has to be incinerated and 28,000 tonnes are landfilled as they are not suitable for incineration. Plans to increase recycling to the 2005-6 target of 18% would mean the current recycling tonnage of 12,000 tonnes would have to be doubled, according to Mr Rowley.

This would trigger a financial penalty to the council as a result of a clause in the incineration contract, as tonnage to be incinerated would drop below the 100,000 tonne level.

“We don’t want householders to be paying twice for the waste treatment, so we have decided to arrange for the rubbish needed to fulfil the incineration contract to be imported from other neighbouring councils” said Mr Rowley. The waste would be brought in from Walsall and Sandwell, which he describes as “landfill councils.”

In a recent inspection report, the Audit Commission criticised Wolverhampton this month for its lack of kerbside collection and its failure to meet government targets.

The council’s waste service was described as “patchy” with “poor” prospects for improvements. It also commented on low recycling rates and high costs, described as “above average,” while its performance was described as “below average in some areas including the amount of household waste that was recycled.”
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