What really happens to our recycling in Lincolnshire? This is exactly where it goes...
At the time of writing, members of the cabinet of South Holland District Council had just voted in favour of a new recycling trial.
They gave approval to a scheme for separate paper and card collections from around 2,000 homes in the district.
The trial, originally proposed for around 4,500 residents in parts of Spalding, Donington and Pinchbeck will, for now, just be operated along one route, mainly in the Pinchbeck area.
The scheme will begin in September and the households in the trial will be asked to put their paper and card into newly provided blue bags for fortnightly collection.
All other recycling will be collected from the same households in the currently provided green bags on alternate weeks.
The idea behind the scheme is to prevent contamination of recycling and reduce the carbon footprint.
There are many cases where items put in green bags get destroyed by food waste - deeming them unfit to be recycled.
And did you know that, in Lincolnshire, at least 20%ofpaper sent to the recycling plant is currently shipped out of the UK? Cardboard ends up in Turkey, India and Indonesia to be turned into new products.
The new scheme aims to cut down on the shipping out of the UK of these products and, as clean paper and card is seen to have a good value, the savings can then be passed on to the tax payer.
Commenting on the proposed scheme last week, portfolio holder for place for the district council, Roger Gambba-Jones said: “We hope that people do understand that a long term advantage is the reduction of the overall council tax bill.”
It's worth noting though, that shredded paper cannot be accepted for recycling, believed to be due to the fact that it can jam the machinery. Shredded paper will also not be accepted as part of the new paper and card collection trial.
So what does happen to our recyclable items at present in the county?
I contacted Lincolnshire County Council to get the figures.
At the moment, all recycling collected in the county’s districts is dealt with by its contractor Mid UK Recycling who it is in contract with until 2020.
This is what happens next:
- Plastic bottles get processed in Buckinghamshire
- Rigid plastics go to the Netherlands to be reused or re-processed into other plastic goods
- Glass is processed and re-formed by a company in Yorkshire
- Almost 80% of the paper goes to sites across the UK, and around 20%goes to the Netherlands, where it is reformed into recycled paper
- Steel tins go to a company in Doncaster, and aluminium tins go to Germany where they are made into other items and packaging
- Cardboard is sold to a third party and then sent out to Turkey, India and Indonesia. The cardboard will then get made into tissues and packaging.
We know that dealing with recyclable materials is a huge task.
There is still some confusion over specific items and types of plastics that we, as consumers, are unsure on whether or not can be recycled.
A spokesperson for the county council said: “Looking forward, we know times are changing. We are looking to find more environmentally friendly ways of processing our recycling.
“For example, we are exploring options with recycling firms closer to home and are looking at processing our food waste at an AD (Anaerobic Digestion) plant.
“We’ve set out our vision and some initial thoughts on how we might do this in our Joint Municipal Waste Strategy which is available on www.lincolnshire.gov.uk - so please have a look.
“Technology is rapidly changing our options and we know that lots of people in the UK are doing really great things, coming up with new ways of recycling.Hopefully we will be able to capitalise on these in the future.
“We’d also like to reassure you that we make minimal use of landfill. So if you are unsure about putting something in your recycling bin because you don’t know if it can be recycled or not, put it in your waste bin/bag, because the vast majority (last year it was 93%) of our waste is then sent to our Energy from Waste plant and made into electricity.”
Spalding resident, Martin Tyrrell, voiced the need for things to change and wrote a letter to this paper earlier this year on his frustration over current recycling and waste procedures.
He wrote: “Most plastic film is not recycled, and plastic trays tell us to “check local recycling”. How on earth is the average person supposed to do that? We are told that black plastic is not recyclable, yet all the supermarkets continue to have shelf after shelf of meat and vegetables on black plastic trays.”
He was pleased to hear that the district is looking at better ways to recycle but added: “I’m always sceptical about phrases like“exploring options”, “our vision” and“initial thoughts” without a clear time scale.
“The other side of the coin is to ensure that we have more opportunities to recycle, and whilst retailers are wedded to plastic film and containers (particularly the dreaded black plastic trays) we are fighting a battle before we even reach the green bags!”
News of the trial paper and card recycling scheme stirred up quite a debate among readers on our Facebook page when it was announced. Some were in support, others not so sure it would be a success.
What do you think? Email the editor at email@example.com