Waste recycling scheme needs saving

HOUSEHOLDERS could be forced to foot the bill to help save a waste recycling scheme serving 36,000 homes.Babergh District Council has held behind closed doors discussions about the future of its pink bag dry recyclables scheme, and is set to hold an extraordinary meeting to debate the issue on August 5.

HOUSEHOLDERS could be forced to foot the bill to help save a waste recycling scheme serving 36,000 homes.

Babergh District Council has held behind closed doors discussions about the future of its pink bag dry recyclables scheme, and is set to hold an extraordinary meeting to debate the issue on August 5.

At the centre of the crisis is the alleged prohibitive costs to contractors of separating Babergh's pink bags from dirty waste delivered under a partnership agreement with Suffolk County Council materials recycling facility at Great Blakenham.

The plant is owned by Viridor Waste Management who, until recently, leased the operation to Wastepack Recyclate Management.


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Babergh is the only authority in Suffolk running a pink bag scheme, and Wastepack's departure has left Viridor saying costs will force it to close down the manual separation of the bags in October.

It also wants long-term guarantees from Babergh and other authorities to deliver separated materials to the plant. The district council is consulting with residents on preferred, two bin collection schemes.

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Viridor has said it can only afford to continue running the recycling facility if the council delivers clean waste almost immediately.

The authority is facing the possibility of spending an extra £600,000 over 18 months by putting on an additional, fortnightly collection throughout the district - just to collect pink bags.

Babergh aims from 2003-04 is to boost its recycling percentage by having twin bin collections, but it has no budget provision for effectively, immediately increasing its collection costs by 50 per cent.

The authority may have to consult with the county and Viridor and take funds from balances to accumulate a six-figure sum under a partnership arrangement. Babergh would also have to renegotiate its bin collection contract with Cleanaway, who would have to invest in extra vehicles and a larger workforce.

Other short-term options include abandoning the pink bag scheme completely, or alternate weekly collections of black bins and pink bags.

A Babergh council spokesman said: "Babergh residents are incredibly supportive of their Council's recycling efforts. Since the start of the pink bag scheme in 2000, Babergh residents have already recycled nearing 5,000 tonnes of material.

"That is why Babergh is exploring various options with its partners to ensure that some form of kerbside recycling continues during the short term difficulties.

"Discussions on the issue were held in camera to avoid disclosure of information that could prejudice the Council's position in negotiations with other parties to secure the best outcome to these difficulties for Babergh's residents. In any case, Babergh's long term recycling plans remain unaffected."

If the extra money for the scheme is not found, the council could temporarily abandon much of its recycling programme and lose public confidence in its waste recovery policies if it fails to meet Government waste targets.

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