RECYCLING rates in Sheffield have soared by more than a fifth since the start of controversial fortnightly bin collections - but hundreds of complaints about the change have been received by the council.
Initial figures from contractor Veolia show collections of paper and card have gone up by 17 per cent, while the amount of glass, cans and plastic bottles put out for recycling rose by 27 per cent.
The average across all types of recycling was a 22 per cent increase.
But the council also admitted it received up to 1,000 calls a day to its helpline when the changes started on August 13 - a figure which has now dropped to between 300 and 400 a day.
Officials estimate hundreds of the calls have been from residents complaining about issues such as not being provided with information about their new collection day, The Star can reveal.
The council says the rise in recycling can be attributed to people taking more care to sort their waste due to reduced rubbish collections.
Another reason is thought to be the roll-out to all areas of ‘flexible collections’, allowing people to choose which recyclables to put in blue bins and boxes, making recycling easier.
Tenants’ and residents’ groups say people are ‘getting used’ to the change.
Mick Daniels, chairman of Brushes Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, Firth Park, said: “I think it is good news that the recycling rate has increased so much. I have not had a lot of people complaining since the change, I think people are getting used to it.
“The only concern I have is that since the ending of free green waste collections as part of the changes, a lot of garden waste is getting dumped.”
Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council cabinet member for environment, said: “This is the single biggest increase in recycling tonnage ever and it is really good news.
“The increase shows that, when push comes to shove, the people of Sheffield rally round and create a positive impact.”
But he added: “We have been clear all along that we had to move to alternate week collections because of the massive cuts the Government has forced on the council. We have a £170 million gap over the next four years and moving to alternate week collections saves £2.5m every year.
“I am aware there have been some localised issues with the information provided for new collection dates. We have already apologised for any inconvenience or problems this may have caused.”
But opposition Lib Dem councillors focused on the number of complaints, and have put forward a motion to the full council meeting on Wednesday calling on the council to make a ‘public apology’ to households which suffered problems.
Coun David Baker, Lib Dem spokesperson for waste and recycling, said: “Cutting recycling services and moving to fortnightly collections at the same time always seemed like a recipe for disaster.
“Labour may complain about money but that’s no excuse for their sheer incompetence. They blew £400,000 on communications but failed to communicate the most basic information - which day your bin will be emptied.”