Talking Politics by Councillor Wera Hobhouse

February 19, 2007 5:38 PM

Recycling has got two dimensions: one is environmental, one is financial. Waste that goes to landfill produces a powerful greenhouse gas, methane, which is many times more powerful than CO2. In order to combat global warming we need to dramatically reduce landfill waste and recycle more. The second reason is financial. Central Government is really tightening the screws on council's that don't recycle, over the next few years financial penalties will run into tens of millions of pounds if we don't recycle to reach our government set targets. For many years this Council ran a half hearted and under funded scheme that resulted in RMBC always failing to reach targets.

So last June the Council introduced Alternate Weekly Collections in the Pennines Townships and all households in Rochdale that are on a Friday collection. The system works by providing residents with a second wheeled bin which will take glass cans, aerosol cans and plastic bottles.

In two separate bags- one blue, one orange- we are collection paper and cardboard. The Council also provides every household with a brown bin for garden waste if they requested. One week all recyclable waste is collected the following week the council collects all residual waste that goes to landfill. This service is not a cut in services to 'fortnightly collections', it's a change in service that allows every household to recycle a lot more.

And it has worked really well! For the first time RMBC will reach its government set recycling targets of 18%. Because of the success of the pilot in Pennines Township we are now proposing to introduce Alternate Weekly collections across the borough beginning with Heywood Township and all areas that are on a Wednesday collection. This is to keep up with the ever more challenging targets that are set by Central Government. In two years we have to reach 33%, which means that RMBC has to almost double its current recycling rates. Only Alternate Weekly Collections will deliver on that challenge. The only other options would be charge each household individually for their waste. Many News features have been running on this issue and chips in bins have proven very unpopular and unfair. In Rochdale we believe we can reach our targets by people coming on board and sending a lot less waste to landfill through our Alternate Weekly Collection scheme.

Every change is at first met with a bit of scepticism by residents. But people in Pennines have got the hang of the new system in a very short time and complaints are at a minimum. The only issue, that we are looking into seriously, are the blues and orange bags which get lost or fly about after being emptied in windy weather.

As Cabinet Member for the Environment and politically responsible for the further roll out of the scheme I do believe that the pilot is ready to go into other areas of the borough. We will listen to all our residents concerns and offer individual bin audits for households which might struggle at first. I trust people in Rochdale Borough to come on board and understand the serious consequences environmentally and financially if we don't recycle a lot more. I know everybody wants to do their bit. Participating and making Alternate Weekly Collections work is a perfect example to demonstrate that.