Back to the future as cardboard recycling returns to Ludlow in December 2016

Five years after it was axed by Shropshire Council, kerbside cardboard collections are to return to Shropshire, with the service for South Shropshire beginning in December. North Shropshire and Shrewsbury get the new collections earlier.[1] Residents will be provided with a new blue bag for paper and cardboard. At the same time, plastics, cans and glass will no longer need to be separated and can be mixed together in recycling boxes. We will also be getting a caddy for our food waste.

From December, the new recycling regime will be:

  • Green bins: garden and food waste
  • Recycling boxes: plastics, tins, foil and glass
  • Blue bags: paper and cardboard
  • Black bins: waste to be incinerated.

The reintroduction of kerbside cardboard collection is a long overdue move. Cardboard recycling in Shropshire plummeted from around 4,000 tonnes a year before the collection service was suddenly withdrawn in November 2011, to 1,232 tonnes in 2012.

We used to put cardboard in the green bin with garden waste. In late 2011, an updated BSI standard on composting quality, PAS 100, came into force. This prevented cardboard being composted if it was ‘contaminated’ with inks or dye, or if it was laminated or variously modified. PAS 100 was introduced in 2007 and the 2011 update followed “a period of intensive stakeholder review and consultation”. Despite that consultation, the change seemed to take Veolia and Shropshire Council by surprise, with former council leader Keith Barrow blaming the new rules on European legislation. It has taken them five years to reintroduce the service. That is an unacceptable delay.

Following the withdrawal of kerbside collection, volunteer schemes have collected cardboard, particularly after Christmas. Recycling banks were increased but opening hours of recycling centres were cut back. The Coder Road recycling centre in Ludlow was closed. But you only need to walk the streets of Ludlow on collection day to see how much cardboard is heading for the Battlefield incinerator.

The new blue bags will take paper as well as cardboard. But the rules ban staples, tape or plastic because they can’t be recycled. I cannot see these rules being diligently obeyed except by the most committed of recyclers. Big boxes will need to be torn or cut up. That’s quite a challenge for many people and may lead to lower recycling rates.

It is good news that households in South Shropshire will get a caddy for food waste. We all miss the blue caddies that used to line the streets of Ludlow before collection and biodigestion on Coder Road. But food waste from the caddy will still need to go in the green bin or a compostable bag if you don’t have or can’t accommodate a green bin. It is not wise to put out food waste in bags. It will attract cats and dogs. In many areas of Ludlow, rats will also feast on the waste.

We will no longer need to separate plastic from metals and glass.  Recyclables in future will be commingled. That means plastic, metal and glass are crushed into the same compartment of the refuse vehicle. The materials are then separated at a materials recovery facility (MRF).

I welcome this.

Commingling has long been controversial. Many fear that the recyclables will not be adequately separated and will end up being incinerated as waste. The standards of MRF separation have improved hugely in recent years, so I am not so concerned about this. Speaking to people in Ludlow, one of the reasons they don’t recycle is they find it an effort to separate the different materials. Commingling will remove this excuse. It will also reduce the number of recycling bins that we need to stack in cupboards, garages and on our front gardens.

I think commingling will increase local recycling rates. We will be able to check this using data collected by Viola as the new recycling regime beds down.

Having made a step forward in recycling with this announcement, Shropshire Council should now begin planning for us to become a zero waste county. Everything should be reused or recycled, not fried in an ugly incinerator or dumped into polluting landfill.

Notes

[1]. The cardboard collection service is being reinstated on the following dates: Shrewsbury & Atcham: October 2016; North Shropshire: November 2016; South Shropshire: December 2016; Oswestry: January 2017; Bridgnorth: February 2017.

One thought on “Back to the future as cardboard recycling returns to Ludlow in December 2016

  1. never quite understood how a council can think they are recycling when they don’t take all the waste. If a household is left to take various regular waste to the tip themselves then there is really no point. The carbon is wasted in the journey and so we might as well take it all. Shropshire have been very slow to be dragged to the table on this one – lack of money is no excuse, there are ways if you have a mind to do it. We need ALL consumable waste to be collected.
    One thing to mention though is that by and large the guys doing the collection or managing the tips are almost always polite and helpful, even when they can’t actually take the rubbish

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