12 January 2011

You're recycling more!

Peckham Rye Residents will recall that during the 2010 election campaign the issue of recycling rates was a huge issue. People we spoke to on the doorstep simply could not believe that the Liberal Democrats who had run the council for 8 years had left Southwark as the 6th worst recycling authority in the country. In November 2009, official league tables showed that in Lib Dem Southwark less than 21% of household waste was recycled. In that year, the recycling rate had risen less than 1%.

Southwark Labour candidates made a pledge during that election campaign to double our borough's recycling rate. In order to meet that pledge Labour needed to prepare the ground for some big changes. The new Cabinet Member with responsibility for recycling, Barrie Hargrove, immediately took steps to introduce a pilot scheme in six wards, including Peckham Rye. In October the pilot started, introducing a weekly food and garden waste collections and supplying people with compostable bags to enable the recycling of food waste.

Well, the interim results of the recycling pilot are now in and it has boosted recycling rates to . . . wait for it . . . 50%. This is absolutely fantastic news!

When it started, instead of getting behind the pilot, Lib Dem Councillors carped from the sidelines and tried to play up concerns about the changes. They penned some rather intemperate letters to the press and posts on their blogs listing a variety of reasons why we should all be desperately concerned and worried that somebody was at last doing something about boosting recycling rates. My personal favourite was when one Lib Dem bemoaned that the pilot had "... lots of potential to go wrong." Well, so does stepping out of the door in morning. I hope they'll now join us in supporting this new approach.

When we were knocking on doors recently, I was struck by how many people said they liked the new system, and felt that it made it easier for them to recycle. Of course, with any change of this sort there will always be teething problems. That is why Southwark Council is now carrying out a consultation on how the pilot has gone from your point of view. To contribute your views to the consultation click here: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/foodwaste

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