6 April 2010

The case for tetra-pak doorstep recycling

Peckham Rye Labour has made doubling the recycling rate a key election promise. After eight years of Lib Dem failure on recycling (and goodness knows how many tonnes of rubbish needlessly ending up in landfill) we believe only a change at the Town Hall will deliver the boost to recycling we need.

Part of our commitment to boosting recycling is to increase the amount of stuff that the council is willing to collect and recycle. Many councils that have successfully increased recycling are those willing to collect items that may be more challenging or expensive to collect. Labour is committed to recycling a wider variety of items including plastic bags and tetra paks and also to introducing food scraps recycling.

The case for this policy is clear if you check out the stuff people currently put into their clear bags or their blue bags and boxes. Nearly every clear bag I spotted when out in Peckham Rye last week contained a tetra pak or two. Providing three or four locations to take your tetra paks to is all very well but if you don't have a car or you already find Southwark's recycling system complicated, adding another confusing layer to our recycling system will not solve Southwark's recycling chaos.

As residents who have spoken to me on the doorsteps will know, I do want to keep us separating out our recycling at source. There is a weight of advice and evidence from the Government's expert adviser on recycling, independent waste experts and NGOs to support this. In contrast the Lib Dems are have committed to bring in a system of 'comingling' should they retain control of the council. This is a policy largely based on the view of the large company that runs their recycling system and which would no doubt benefit from this policy.

My point here is not just to make the case for separation at source but for how this must be combined with an increase in the the items collected door to door. From what I have seen in Peckham Rye, by only collecting items such as tetra paks at a few recycling 'centres', many recyclable items will continue to end up in landfill.

The Lib Dems voted against Labour's plans to invest in door-to-door recycling and to help roll-out improved recycling in flats. The Lib Dems' latest decisions on recycling seem to be beholden to the vested interests that run Southwark's recycling service. This is yet another indication of their failure to genuinely recognise the scale of the recycling challenges Southwark faces. Recycling shouldn't be about making money it's about a long-term investment to change behaviour and protect our environment.

Southwark Lib Dems' big 'X' to improved recycling

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