Croydon council is set to introduce a compulsory recycling scheme next year, in a move which it said was the next logical step in increasing recycling rates and diverting waste from landfill.
At a meeting of the councils cabinet earlier this month (October 16) councillors approved the introduction of compulsory recycling from January 1 2013, in a bid to save the council money by diverting waste from landfill as well as engaging with residents who do not recycle.
Residents who fail to recycle will be identified and what they present for collection will be observed over a period of weeks. This would be followed by a 12 week engagement process, and if no improvement is seen, then an 80 fine will be considered. The council said such enforcement action could be taken but only as a last resort.
However the cabinet noted that residents who recycled through other means, such as bring banks and at household waste and recycling centres, would not be penalised.
Prior to the announcement, the council launched a consultation with residents on compulsory recycling, which found that 74% of respondents agreed that the council should make regular kerbside recycling compulsory, with 68% agreeing that the council should take action against those that dont comply.
Commenting on the compulsory recycling scheme, Councillor Phil Thomas, cabinet member for highways and environmental services, said: The vast majority of households recycle, and they wont need to change anything they do. We want to find out if people who arent recycling dont have the required box or dont understand what they should be doing, and we want to work with them. If they then dont want to cooperate we will fine them and, where necessary, take legal action as a last resort.
Cllr Thomas added that the scheme was a no-brainer as it would help the council to save money while increasing the recycling rate. The council hopes to save roughly 200,000 a year by implementing the scheme, through a reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and an increase in recycling. It costs Croydon 106-a-tonne to send waste to landfill, compared to 30-a-tonne for processing recyclables.
At the meeting, the cabinet noted that the London borough of Barnet was the first council in the capital to introduce compulsory recycling in 2005. Since its introduction, Barnet has only imposed one fine. A number of other councils have adopted a similar policy, including Brent, Islington and Lambeth.
Croydon council has already undertaken measures to increase its recycling rates, after it introduced weekly food waste collections in October 2011. Food waste is collected by Veolia Environmental Services as part of a 14-year refuse collection and recycling contract with the council.
Veolia also collects dry recyclables and residual waste for the council. Recyclables are collected on an alternate weekly basis with paper and card collected one week, followed by cans, glass and mixed plastics the next week. In addition, textiles are collected weekly and residual waste fortnightly. In 2011/12 the council achieved a 38.1% recycling rate.
Initially, blocks of flats and flats above shops will be excluded from the compulsory recycling scheme. In February 2012 the council introduced food waste collections to flats in a bid to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfill (see letsrecycle.com story).