Exclusive: Recycling changes to cost £750,000

Bin men emptying domestic waste bins
Bin men emptying domestic waste bins
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CHANGES to Sheffield’s recycling system could cost up to £750,000, writes The Star’s Ben Spencer.

Council bosses are negotiating with waste contractor Veolia Environmental Services to implement a promised shake-up of kerbside collection services.

The change, which will allow Sheffield residents to choose whether to use their blue bins and boxes for paper or cans and bottles, was meant to be in place by April 1.

The Star revealed on Thursday that the introduction of the new system has been delayed by a row between the council and Veolia about the cost of the change.

Neither side would reveal the sums involved - but now The Star has learned Veolia are asking for between £200,000 and £750,000 to implement the Lib Dem leadership’s promises.

At the moment residents use blue wheelie bins for cans, plastics and bottles and smaller boxes for paper and card.

But the system has been unpopular, with residents complaining that filling the boxes with paper makes them too heavy to carry and they have little protection from wind or rain.

The Lib Dem leadership reacted to the complaints by promising to allow residents themselves to choose what to put in their boxes or bins.

But The Star understands there are significant costs associated with giving residents that choice.

Currently the collection vehicles are split in two, with equipment on the back to tip boxes or bins into their correct compartment.

The vehicles will have to be modified so both compartments can take wheeled bins.

Veolia has also told the council the trucks will have to make more rounds because the new arrangements are set to mean changes to the rate at which each compartment fills up.

The Star understands specific money for the extra costs was not put aside in the 2011/12 budget - but Liberal Democrats insist sufficient funds are available.

Opposition Labour councillors have accused the Lib Dem administration of making promises they could not keep.

Labour group leader Coun Julie Dore said: “It seems that the Lib Dems are trying to put off everything until after the elections as they think they’re going to lose and it won’t any longer be their problem.

“However, they shouldn’t have made a promise to bring in the new system if they never meant to keep it.”

But Lib Dem environment spokesman Coun Andrew Sangar said: “I think the people of Sheffield would prefer us to take a little more time in order to get the best deal possible.

“As can be seen by the huge improvements to local recycling facilities under the Lib Dems, we are committed to ensuring Sheffield has the best service possible.”

A Veolia spokeswoman said: “We always work with the council to provide a value-for-money service.

“We will continue to work with them in a constructive manner so that this proposed change in service is available to residents in the future.

“In the meantime, it is important that residents continue to support the existing kerbside recycling service.”