Is Lack Of Communication Responsible For Poor Recycling Rates In Stoke-on-Trent?

Hidden away in a press release informing residents of Stoke-on-Trent of changes to bin collections days over the festive period, if you read past the dates, you will see that cardboard can no longer placed in to brown bins.

Almost as an after thought the couple of lines reads

Residents are also being advised that from Monday 2 January 2012 they will no longer be able to dispose of cardboard in their brown bin. After this date people will need to put cardboard in their blue bin. If a brown bin contains cardboard after January 31 2012 the owner will receive a contamination notice and their bin will not be emptied.

These changes are due to a change in the quality standard of compost which can be adversly affected by the presence of printed cardboard. In light of the change in quality standards, in July the company which takes compostable waste from Stoke-on-Trent City Council informed the counil that they would no longer be accepting cardboard.

While Stoke-on-Trent City Council, pass this important information on to residents almost as an after thought, other councils who use the same company for the compostable waste have taken more high profile action to make sure their residents are aware of the changes.

Derbyshire Dales District Councils delivered leaflets to the 33,000 homes across the Dales back in August explaining that cardboard material be transferred from the compostable waste collection into the dry recycling collection.

Staffordshire Moorlands Cabinet met and agreed to begin communicating the changes to residents via leaflets to all households and roadshows  around the area with Moorlands Radio back in September.

In Stoke-on-Trent some 86,000 (76%) of households  are on the enhanced recycling scheme with grey, blue & brown bins and have had no communication about where their cardboard needs to go other than those few lines in the press release.

As for the rest of the city who have a small green box for glass and metal and a blue bag for paper. There is no mention anywhere about cardboard recycling if you are not on the enhanced scheme. In fact the instructions on the side of the green box make it very clear that you are not to put cardboard in this box. The What Can I put In My Bin page on the council website backs up this instruction not to put cardboard in your green box.

Then the Changes To Your Recycling Collections page on the council website says you can leave cardboard with your green bin.

So what do you do with plastics  if you don’t have a blue bin? Well according to the What Can I Put In My Bin page, if you don’t have a blue bin then all you can do is put it in the waste for incineration or landfill.

But if you phone the council and speak to someone in the enviromental directorate you will find out that you can in-fact put plastics in your green box as well as cardboard.

We have reported many times in the past about how poor the recycling rates are in the city and questioned the recycling method but this is something far simpler, it is just a case of providing information to people.

If you are on the enhanced recycling scheme it is easy as you have 3 bins, if your not on this scheme and only have the green box and blue bag, the chances are you have been putting plastic and cardboard in with the household waste for incineration which is why according to council figures, 51% of our household waste still goes to the incinerator and 10% to landfill.

Thanks to Ian Norris for providing some of the information in this post

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