Why kitchen scraps are now banned from brown bins in Ipswich

From May brown bins in Ipswich can only be used for garden waste.

From May brown bins in Ipswich can only be used for garden waste. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich Borough Council recently announced kitchen scraps could no longer go into brown bins. Today, leader of the authority, David Ellesmere, explains why the change was made.

This is my first column since the council elections. I was very pleased with the results, with Labour gaining two seats. Thank you to all those who voted for us.

One issue that came up during the elections was the recent change to what can go in brown bins.

Given the restrictions around council publicity during election periods this was perhaps not communicated as well as it could have been.

Removing kitchen scraps from brown bin collections is not something we would wish to do.

It was forced on us by a proposed 55% increase in the charge from our previous disposal operator, which would have increased the annual cost of disposing of brown bin waste by £185,000 a year.

MORE: Fears after foot and mouth disease lead to Ipswich kitchen waste ban

Given the continuing cuts in Government funding and a cap on council tax, this increase was something we had to try to avoid by looking for a alternative cheaper operator.

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The problem is that our previous operator has the only nearby composting plant which operates at high enough temperatures to legally take kitchen waste.

There are nationally set rules, introduced after the last big foot-and-mouth outbreak, that say that if waste has come from inside a property it must be treated at a high enough temperature to kill any pathogens that may be introduced from inside the home.

Any alternative operator that could take kitchen scraps would be so far away from Ipswich that the higher fuel and staffing costs would come to more than £185,000.

We don't believe that removing kitchen scraps will actually make a large difference to the amount sent for composting, as garden waste forms by far the majority of brown bin contents.

Ipswich will still have a higher average tonnage of organic waste collected per household than surrounding districts because, as we don't charge, many more Ipswich households use brown bins.

We believe that keeping brown bins free of charge and not taking kitchen scraps is currently the most cost effective way to maximise the amount of waste going to composting from Ipswich.

If the opportunity comes in future to reintroduce kitchen scraps, or indeed any food waste, at a reasonable cost then we will do so.

- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

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