The Council consults on it’s plan to scrap inner-city recycling

Paul Robinson,  Derby City Council strategic director, came to speak to the Derby Climate coaltion on May 17. As a result we sent him this letter on the May 23rd, copied to the leader of Council, Paul Bayliss and to cllr Ranjit Banwait 

Dear Paul,

Thank you very much for coming to speak to the Climate Coalition last Thursday. As you know, people were very engaged. We agree with you that that many of these streets do have problems with waste management and that a move to a simpler system may help.

Since last week we have had a further discussion among ourselves and as a result, there are a number of issues that we wish to explore with you further.

You said that Neighbourhood Officers would be consulting residents over the bins. We would appreciate more information on how you are doing this consultation.  For example, do the officers have a script? Are they leaving explanatory leaflets? Are they asking in the context of what the recycling system will be for the rest of the city in November, or what residents should be doing for recycling now? Consultation without explaining the need for recycling, in particular with reference to climate change , in our view gives a very limited view on which to make a decision about whether they should support a return to black bins only.

You talked about contaminated waste; and how this can be rejected by the recipient company. Could you clarify whether you were talking in the main about blue bin or brown bin waste?

Generally we feel that it will be easier for people once we have moved to the simpler two-bin system. We therefore feel that it is pre-judging inner-city residents by asking them, and the Cabinet, to make a decision on returning to just black bins before everyone can see how well a two bin system works.

From the meeting you will be aware that we were disappointed at some of the language people have been using about particular sectors who might be causing problems. For example, references to migrants who may only be staying in a property for a month or students. Other areas may have even higher turnover of people, for example in holiday lets, but this does not mean that recycling doesn’t work, provided that people are provided with the right information at the right time. Landlords and letting agencies clearly have a key role here and we wonder whether they have been asked to write in a clause about recycling into lease agreements. Indeed is there scope for the council to introduce a bye-law, where the responsibility for good waste management lies with the property owner?

Your comment about political priorities and the reduced budget for information on recycling would also appear to be significant. Is there a correlation between when (and how often) you provide information to households and numbers of rejected bins? If so, it might provide evidence that regular information pays for itself by reducing other costs.

I hope that you were encouraged by the letter from the President of University of Derby Students Union, which emphasised their commitment to recycling. We hope that you will follow this up and engage further with students in these areas and others. It may be appropriate to have a stall at Fresher’s week.

Many of our supporters are keen to retain recycling collections in these areas, even if large blue bins are not the answer for some people. We are continuing to talk with our supporters, and others in these areas, who participate fully in recycling and do not want to lose this service. We would also appreciate being kept informed and involved with neighbourhood boards as much as possible.

Finally, you asked for more information about how to assess the climate impact of recycling changes. I append a list of points that may help your technical officers provide an approximate figures.

All the best

Peter Robinson


Climate change impacts

Charging for brown bins

Lower emissions/emissions delayed due to:

  • Fewer lorry miles
  • Some garden waste rots more slowly in gardens


Higher emissions/emissions sooner due to:

  • More garden bonfires
  • Biodegradable material in landfill produces methane which isn’t captured
  • More peat-based compost used by gardeners
  • More individual journeys to Raynesway tip



Stopping blue bin collections

Lower emissions/emissions delayed due to:

  • Fewer lorry miles? (depending whether landfill is nearer/further than recycling depot)


Higher emissions/emissions sooner due to:

  • Higher lorry miles? (depending whether landfill is nearer/further than recycling depot)
  • Higher energy requirement for new materials processing/transport
  • Material, esp paper, decomposes rather than being reused
  • Biodegradable material in landfill produces methane which isn’t captured

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