A NEW food waste collection scheme is set to be introduced in Reading as part of a major new campaign to boost the recycling rate in the town to 50 per cent.
The campaign called ‘Reading Does’ recognises that households in the borough already recycle and are keen to do more and the Council wants to make it even easier for residents to recycle as much as possible and cut the amount of waste going to landfill.
A number of initiatives will be introduced in the coming months to help the borough reach its important recycling target with the support of re3, our waste management partners.
The programme is part of Reading’s drive to become a carbon neutral town by 2030 after declaring a climate emergency in February 2019.
About 59,000 tonnes of household waste is generated in Reading each year. Reading residents currently recycle 32 per cent of their household waste, therefore a big effort is needed to reach the 50 per cent target.
Research by recycling charity WRAP shows that people generally want to do the right thing but confusion leads to them putting the wrong items in the recycling bin. Their survey showed that 73 per cent of respondents were unsure about what could be recycled and almost half put the wrong items in their recycling bins because they would rather ‘play it safe’.
The impact of recycling being heavily ‘contaminated’ with non-recyclable items could mean the load being sent to landfill.
Reading Does will focus on helping residents make the right decisions about recycling with a range of leaflets, posters and improved web pages.
Recent analysis in Reading has shown that an average of 41 per cent of waste in grey bins from houses, and 30 per cent from flats in Reading, is made up of food waste. Sending food waste in grey bins to landfill generates methane which is 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. The introduction of a food waste collection service should therefore make a big difference to recycling rates and landfill costs.
The food waste collected from Reading households will be sent to the anaerobic digestion plant and processed into biogas which will be used for electricity, as well as fertiliser for use on farm land.
The proposed new food waste collection scheme is being considered for approval by members of the Policy Committee on Thursday 26th September. If approved, weekly collections would be introduced next autumn.
Further analysis of householders waste in Reading has shown that an average of 18 per cent of waste in grey bins could have been put in the red recycling bins. To tackle this problem household 240 litre grey bins will be replaced by 140 litre bins which research by WRAP shows helps reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. However, the introduction of 23 litre food waste caddies will only mean an overall reduction in capacity of 27 litres per week per household.
A comprehensive communications campaign explaining the changes will begin in the months before the introduction of food waste collections and will include information roadshows around the borough, new bin calendars and letters being sent to all households.
A dedicated Recycling Team is also being set up to proactively help residents recycle as much as possible. Work will also be carried out in partnership with Reading University to ensure students are able to participate fully in recycling.
Officers will carry out educational visits to areas where there are low levels of recycling or a high incidence of incorrect items in recycling bins. Enforcement officers will also be appointed to tackle environmental issues such as fly-tipping.
Cllr Sophia James, Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said:
“Increasing our rate of recycling to 50 per cent in Reading is an ambitious target but one which I’m confident we can achieve if we all work together.
“I’m sure that a vast majority of people do want to do the right thing and recycle at home but there is some confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.
“The good news is that recycling in Reading is very easy – plastic bottles and trays, yoghurt pots, tins, cans, foil, card and paper can all go into the same bin and are sorted at our recycling centre.
“I am very excited about the introduction of a food waste collection scheme which I am sure will be very popular with households in Reading and will go a long way towards boosting our recycling rate and seriously reduce landfill levels and subsequent harmful gas emissions.
“Reading residents do a great job at recycling already and I am positive the launch of our campaign and changes to waste collection will help us reach our 50 per cent target.”
Cllr Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Earlier this year Reading Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency and committed to making the town carbon neutral by 2030.
“Recycling is something we can all do to help conserve resources, save energy, protect the environment and reduce landfill and the introduction of food waste collections will give us a big push towards reaching our 50 per cent recycling target.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
· WRAP sources quoted: Feedback provided at focus groups carried out to inform the refresh of the Recycle Now campaign (2015) and WRAP Recycling Tracker Survey (2016), both referenced in http://static.wrap.org.uk/consistancy/Learn_more_about_the_evidence.pdf
· re3 is a waste management partnership between Reading, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Borough Councils which is responsible for arranging the disposal of household waste collected at the kerbside, at recycling centres in Reading and Bracknell, glass banks and street cleaning.
· The report being discussed at Policy Committee on 26th September can be found at: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=138&MId=3088
· A list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding waste, recycling and the forthcoming food waste collection scheme can be found at: www.reading.gov.uk/wastechanges