Agenda item

Lindsay Ferris has asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:



Why has Wokingham slipped down the local authority ratings for recycling rates and now is only in 232nd position out of 352 local authorities?



Why has Wokingham slipped down the local authority ratings for recycling rates and now is only in 232nd position out of 352 local authorities?



It gives an opportunity to share some figures beneath this headline one that you have brought up.  We were in 2012/13 197th out of 352 and we have slipped to 232nd.  Over the last five years recycling has stayed broadly flat in the Borough which reflects the national picture of an increase in residual waste and flattening of recycling.  However of particular relevance to Wokingham Borough was the change implemented by Government in May 2012 to deregulate the recycling of street sweepings.  Part of this change meant that waste that had previously been recycled was diverted to landfill and was no longer considered in the recycling calculation.  The amount of roads we have, we have a large amount of street sweepings.  For Councils like Wokingham, who had previously performed well and recycled 100% of street sweepings, this had a disproportionate effect on our recycling rate.  If these changes had not occurred we would have seen a recycling rate of 45% in 2012/13.  We are exploring, with our partners, ideas about possible treatment of the arisings that could see some element of street sweepings being included within the recycling rate again.  In addition, we are not being complacent about recycling generally and are trialling a number of initiatives including targeting areas where we have evidence of poor recycling rates.  This includes working proactively with particular households and communities to help them improve their recycling.  We are targeting our communications to these areas too and working at community events to help raise the profile of this issue.  With our Re3 partners we are working on a strategic marketing campaign that will see key messages being communicated across all three Council areas.


On a positive note to finish our reliance on landfill has reduced significantly thanks to the Re3 Contract with the diversion of approximately 27,000 tonnes of our waste diverted away from landfill every year – for this indicator we rank at 36th out of 352.  As always the waste performance indicators cannot be considered in isolation and a complex set of variables must be considered to appreciate the wider position.


Supplementary Question

You partially touched on what my supplementary is but I will ask it.  As all three Re3 councils recycling rates seem to be affected in the same way, is this caused by the way the Re3 is set up and managed?


Supplementary Answer

As I said in my answer, we seem to be mirroring national rates and national trends.  I think everything we can do with Re3 is a positive thing and definitely we are doing things within this Council but also trying collectively to work within Re3 to improve the performance and we hope we will be able to look at further materials to judge how we best do it.  One of the factors of course that I did not mention is, a large part of our recycling used to be newsprint and we are not buying as many newspapers which is having a perverse effect on our recycling rates.