Cabinet last night, where I took through a strategy to overhaul the Council's waste management from 6th April 2009.
Currently, through the green boxes, we recycle about 22% of our waste. That's about par for the North East, but woeful compared with a natioanl average of 38%. And of course, there are plenty of drivers for change - the threat of global warming and the need to conserve resources has produced European and Government-inspired targets to which we will have to adhere, most notably the escalating landfill tax that imposes a penalty for every tonne of waste sent to landfill.
Last year the Council retendered its waste treatment, recycling and disposal contract, which was won by John Wade's at Aycliffe. As noted by my fellow blogger Cllr. Mike Barker, Wade's have invested in a state of the art facility that will lead to substantial benefits for Darlington residents. I was able to announce the full details last night.
Green box collection will continue, but will focus on paper, glass and cardboard. Over the years a significant number of residents have approached the Council about their desire to have cardboard included as part of the doorstep recycling scheme again, and we have listened.
Residents will njow be able to put plastics and metals (cans etc) in their black bags - this is because they will be sorted at the plant, removed, and recycled, although this will be a developing process as far as the plastics are concerned. Because Wades will have a mechanical biological treatment plant, water will be driven off from the black sacks once theyu enter the process, and they will be "composted" which means the organic matter (kitchen waste and the like) will be broken down.
The end result will be that between 50% and 60% of Darlington's household waste will be recyled or composted. Just 40% should go to landfill - a significant improvement on the current position.
Together with the good news as far as cardboard and the environmental benefits are concerned, I was also able to recommend to Cabinet that we do not pursue wheelie bins and the fortnightly collection of household refuse, as some councils have adopted. I know from conversations in my own ward that opinion is divided on the merits or otherwise of wheelie bins - that certainly isn't the case as far as fortnightly collections of refuse is concerned, where there is local and nationwide opposition. I'm glad that my recommendation to rule out such a scheme for Darlington was accepted by my cabinet colleagues.
This is another, but very important step, in our Making Waste Work strategy which will be unfolding over the next few months - reducing and reusing as much of our waste will be key elements of strategy too.