Lancashire council earns £22m from your rubbish

Recycling depot
Recycling depot
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Lancashire is proving where there’s muck there’s brass.

More than £22million has been raised by County Hall through the sale of recyclable materials since 2010, according to new figures.

At its peak in 2012/13, rubbish realised £6.3m. But, following a markets crash, the figure had fallen to £2.3m by last year.

Despite the setback the amount raised from selling plastics, glass, paper and other material still doubled between 2013/14 and 2015/16.

New figures show the county now hits its EU target in 2015/16 by recycling more than 50 per cent of waste, excluding construction and demolition materials.

The 51.6 per cent of waste which went for recycling was up from 47.3 per cent in 2014/15.

And County Hall chiefs are asking for more, even though they say recycling is their “third choice” option for dealing with rubbish.

“We would much prefer for waste to be prevented in the first place,” said a spokesperson. “Where it can’t be prevented, we would want waste to be re-used.

“After that recycled.”

The county council says it is developing plans to advance its waste ambitions and get greater value from the re-use of the county’s waste resources.

These could include “shops” selling locally recycled goods at the county’s waste disposal centres.

Garstang’s former tip site pioneered the way to direct recycling when the council linked with a local charity to re-open it as a new Community Recycling and Re-use Centre.

And last week Preston’s waste disposal centre on Tom Benson Way followed its example when an on-site shop opened for business.

The county council spokesman said: “Although the Garstang shop is doing fine, footfall could be higher.

“We are hoping that the Ingol facility will be very successful. Once we know that this model is successful the intention would be to replicate it wherever appropriate.”

The county council has 16 Household Waste Recycling Centres where people can take items such such as scrap metal, oil, textiles, clothes, shoes, fridges/freezers, paint etc can be left, for recycling.

On average 75 per cent of waste taken to these centres is recycled.

The council says it tries to “get the best price in the market” when appointing recycling contractors, who must follow international regulations on waste shipments when waste is transported overseas.

Meanwhile it is district councils who have the responsibility to collect rubbish from bins at people’s homes.

One big issue looming ever nearer is how local councils will cope when the county’s decision to end cost-sharing arrangements with district authorities fully hits home.

In Wyre a spokesman said: “This has impacted on the council already. LCC funding through the agreement has been reduced by approximately six per cent per annum over the last few years and will end in 2018.”

Coun Brendan Hughes, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for clean and green, added: “One of the biggest challenges we face is that we’re set to lose £1.2m through the county council’s decision to end cost-sharing arrangements.

“The costs of collection and then disposal of waste keep on increasing.

“The more people continue to think about firstly whether they can reuse things, secondly whether they can reduce the amount they throw away, and thirdly make best use of the recycling service we have, then that helps in terms of managing the cost of services and also looking after the environment.”

A year ago LCC decided to mothball two giant recycling plants at Farington and Thornton – built at a cost of £150m each by Australian firm Global Renewables – and instead send food waste to landfill.

A spokesman for LCC said: “We sell everything to UK companies. Some of the materials are then re-used in the UK and some are shipped abroad.

“For example, shoes and textiles go to a company which sends them to Africa and Eastern Europe, plastic bottles are baled and sold to various markets, including China, but things like oil, cans, glass and paper is recycled within the UK.

“It appears to depend where there’s a market for it. Importantly all our contractors have to clear each processor they use with us.

“We in turn do a check on these companies with the Environment Agency to ensure that they have no concerns about them. Export of waste is covered by the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations so there are clear guidelines as to how they are allowed to operate.”