North Herts ‘brown bin tax’ could mean recycling decline

North Herts Bins.

North Herts Bins. - Credit: Archant

The £40 ‘brown bin tax’ set to be introduced in North Herts next May could lead to fewer people recycling, judging from developments in Welwyn Hatfield.

According to Welwyn Hatfield Council figures covering April to June this year, recycling and composting fell to 46 per cent of that during the same period last year.

This fall came following the authority’s introduction of a £35 annual brown bin collection charge – similar to the yearly £40 charge North Herts District Council’s cabinet has voted to introduce, despite massed opposition.

NHDC is entering a joint waste collection contract with East Herts Council – and during a combined meeting in Hertford, speakers raised concerns including a potential decline in recycling.

The NHDC cabinet chose to introduce the £40 charge from May, while a meeting of all East Herts Council members saw a narrow vote against such a move.This has prompted outrage in North Herts, where 85 per cent of respondents to a district council consultation opposed introducing a charge.

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When asked how NHDC would prevent a similar recycling decline to that seen in Welwyn Hatfield, NHDC’s waste and recycling portfolio holder Councillor Michael Weeks said a new weekly food waste collection service would help mitigate any impact.

Mr Weeks, who represents Baldock Town, said: “Many councils, including North Herts, are experiencing small drops in recycling rates this year due to a drop nationally in paper consumption and increased consumerism in our current economic climate.

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“In addition, the amount councils collect for composting will vary year on year dependant on weather conditions.

“With the introduction of a weekly food waste collection service in North Herts from May 2018, we anticipate this will go some way to counter any drop in recycling rates as a result of a charged garden waste collection, through the diversion of more food from landfill.”

Labour councillors in North Herts have called in the decision to charge for brown bin waste collection, and an urgent meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has now been arranged for November 8.

This will precede a cabinet meeting the following day, which a council spokeswoman said would allow the authority to cover all eventualities and notify the waste contractor of any changes.

The Overview and Scrutiny meeting will be held at the Icknield Centre in Letchworth’s Icknield Way on Wednesday, November 8, at 7.30pm.

The cabinet meeting will follow at the Brotherhood Hall in Gernon Road at 3pm the next day.

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