Croydon spends big to up recycling rates

Croydon Council is set to invest a record amount in waste management services as it looks to double recycling rates across the south London borough

Croydon Council is investing £4.75M to improve recycling services, an amount it believes is the biggest single environmental investment any local authority is making in 2008-9. While £3M will be used to meet increased running costs for the expanded and upgraded services, the remaining £1.75M will be spent on providing new plant and equipment.

Croydon is looking to achieve a 30% recycling rate in the next year – a figure regarded as the minimum payback for what will be a near £7M operation. The volume of recycled waste in the London borough is already climbing towards 23% in 2007-8, a significant improvement since the council decided that environmental activity should be a priority. Just two years ago, the rate was 16.1% – one of the lowest in London

Croydon Council is planning to give its recycling effort a fresh impetus by extending kerbside collection services of plastic, cardboard and green waste, as well as upgrading the borough’s neighbourhood recycling centres and developing the estates recycling service. In addition, it will continue to trial kitchen waste collections to 2,500 households. These improvements will help Croydon meet an ambitious target of at least 40% of household waste being recycled or composted by 2010.

Minimisation drive

In producing a new waste strategy and recycling plan for the next three years, the council has published its intention to manage waste through a hierarchy that gives top priority to minimisation and reduction. This is followed by reuse, recycling and composting, then energy recovery. In time, the council expects the waste being taken away for landfill to be the smallest amount with alternative measures accounting for most of the borough’s discarded material.

Croydon Councillor Phil Thomas, cabinet member for environment and highways, says: “We’re spending more than ever on recycling – reflecting the priority of local residents. The extra money going into the service next year means we’re doing more in this area than anyone else at present. While I don’t believe in penalising households for not doing enough, the Government is already loading more costs on to council tax by imposing its landfill tax.

“To reduce this expense, and further lift public attitude to recycling, we’ve got to make it as easy as possible for residents to recycle as much waste as possible. I believe the tactics are paying off both through higher tonnages of recycled waste and greater satisfaction among residents for the approach we’re taking.”

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