Kirklees proposes waste initiatives amid lack of government ‘clarity’

A Kirklees council committee will ask the local authority’s cabinet for nearly £3 million in capital funding for seven initiatives aimed at improving waste services across the borough.

Kirklees council had a household waste recycling rate of 25% in the 2020/21 financial year (picture: Kirklees Together)

Kirklees’s economy and neighbourhood scrutiny panel met on 19 July to discuss the progress made on the council’s resources and waste strategy.

The meeting heard a “lack of clarity” from central government made it difficult to commit to introducing new schemes, though Kirklees was pressing on with trials.

Much of the funding (£2 million) required would go towards improving litter bins and completing an audit of the containers across the borough.

Other proposals include £50,000 for a community reward scheme, £70,000 for a reuse shop in Huddersfield, £10,000 to invest in “innovation” within environmental enforcement, £150,000 for a glass collection trial and £100,000 for bulky waste collections.

Rachel Palmer, recycling officer at the council, told the meeting that some commitments contained within the strategy, such as kerbside glass and food waste collections, required greater depot space.

The committee will also ask the cabinet for £500,000 to carry out detailed surveys and feasibility reports, “to help us locate and find the most suitable place for an expanded depot facility”.

She said: “We need more depot space for the additional vehicles that would be needed to collect those additional items. Our depots in the north and south are at maximum capacity at the moment.”

The committee will put the proposals before Kirklees’s cabinet at a meeting on 9 August.

Funding

The government has yet to publish its response to the consultation on consistency in household and business recycling in England, which will specify what councils should collect from the kerbside (see letsrecycle.com story).

Government keep kicking the can down the road on exactly what they’re asking of us
– Will Acornley, Kirklees council’s head of operational services

Earlier this year, waste management company Suez signed a two-year “interim” deal to continue managing Kirklees’s waste until March 2025 while the council waited for word of any available funding to support service delivery changes (see letsrecycle.com story).

Will Acornley, Kirklees’s head of operational services, told the meeting: “Government keep kicking the can down the road on exactly what they’re asking of us. There is some call for mixing of different types of waste together, but then the government is saying they don’t want that.

“What we’re a bit nervous of at the moment is implementing something that may preclude us from getting funding, because this is going to be a significant revenue draw on the authority.”

He added: “Unfortunately, the position we’re in at the moment isn’t helping, which is why we’re focusing on trials, so at least we’ve got the data, evidence, understanding to be ready for when those tablets of stone come down and we know where we are and what we’re doing.”

Mr Acornley said Kirklees also had “real supply chain issues” at the same time. He said: “Our vehicles are on 18-month order now. We’ve got some suppliers that are closing books, like Ford.”

Glass

Last year, the council announced plans to introduce a separate glass collection from 2024. Kirklees plans to trial glass collections next year, as much of how the service could work remains unclear.

Kirklees plans to introduce a separate glass collection from 2024

“When we spoke to residents – and we had more than 7,000 come back to us on the waste consultation – we provided a number of options, from communal through to an insert, through to a box, through to a bin,” Mr Acornley said.

“There wasn’t any clear winner in what the preference was. I think that reflects the fact that Kirklees is so diverse – diverse in its people, diverse in its housing stock.”

He  added: “We want to be able to look at different ways of doing things in different areas and see if there’s a much more place-based approach to that delivery, because we’re going to be spending significant amounts of money.”

Kirklees

Representing an estimated population of nearly 440,000, Kirklees council had a household waste recycling rate of 25% in the 2020/21 financial year.

The largest town and administrative centre of Kirklees is Huddersfield (picture: Shutterstock)

Kirklees previously collected glass separately but scrapped the service nine years ago. Explaining the decision, Mr Acornley said: “The authority at the time had to balance budgets. We had significant reductions in central government funding and the decision was that we were going to prioritise caring for younger, more vulnerable people in society.”

Mr Acornley also said collecting glass monthly in a box caused “significant operational issues”. “It caused huge musculoskeletal issues to staff,” he said. “We had 25% absence rates, so it wasn’t a sustainable model anyway.”

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