Councillor Karen McGowan
I thought it would be helpful for me to respond to the points raised by S Collin’s recent letter titled “brown bin, blue bin you take your pick” on the changes to the recycling service and the introduction of the brown bin.
First of all, I would like to assure S Collins that I do know what goes in the blue and brown bin. What I actually said in my speech at full council (and which the Star were given a copy of) was “The blue bin will replace the hated blue box, meaning there is significantly more space for paper and card recycling. In addition to this the new brown bin (which is the same size as the black bin) will be used for glass bottles, jars, cans and plastic bottles and due to the increased size it is expected that this will encourage greater recycling.”
To clear up any confusion, any plastic bottle can be placed in the brown bin, so your pop bottles, milk bottles and bleach bottles can go in. If someone makes a mistake don’t worry, the bin police won’t be there to fine you but not every type of plastic can be recycled.
What is needed is a proper conversation, not political points scoring on what can and cannot be recycled in the brown bin. It is very easy for the Liberal Democrats to demand that all plastic packaging be accepted in the brown bin, the question I’d like to ask them is once they have collected it what are they going to do with it? In July this year the National Audit Office (NAO) report found that over half of the packaging reported as recycled is actually being sent abroad to be processed. This isn’t the case for Sheffield and we should be proud that we send less than 1% of our waste to landfill, recovering value from the remaining 99%. We can do this by only accepting the items we know we can recycle, creating the confidence that the plastics that filled our TV screens earlier in the year on Blue Planet II were not from Sheffield.
Despite saving more than £6million from the annual waste services budget since 2010, further Government cuts meant we had to save a another £3.4million. Therefore in 2016 we asked residents for their views on a range of potential changes including exchanging the blue box for a bin. The positive feedback we received on ending the use of the box ensured that we got the right balance between protecting the budget for adult social care and being able to continue to provide an environmentally sustainable, affordable waste service to the residents of Sheffield.