Many people have signed our petition calling for a halving of domestic rubbish in Birmingham, through a food waste collection and increased recycling rates. Thank you.
If the smelly stuff is taken out, the rest is mostly recyclable. Wales has passed 50% recycling rate by taking this approach and is aiming for 70%. Currently, Birmingham is on 32% recycling or composted, the rest burned or buried.
Friends of the Earth’s petition with 800 signatures has gone to the Council’s Scrutiny Review of the 2006 Waste Strategy. We have attended the evidence gathering meeting, where we pointed out that many cities are aiming for 60 to 70% recycling. Most of the waste being burned in the incinerator at Tyseley has a value if it was kept separated and not contaminated by mixing. Also, we drew attention to the large carbon dioxide footprint of burning rubbish, and to the ‘litter footprint’ of the bin bag collection. A million pounds is spent on pest control every year in Birmingham (and the rats are still winning).
The Scrutiny Committee has listened to us, to the public, and the local councillors and wards. It is recommending that the Waste Strategy be aligned to the City’s energy and carbon reduction strategies. Every stage will be assessed, to look for the least wasteful, most efficient solutions. This is really new! They also propose a recycling target of 60% instead of the current 40%. There may be a target for re-use of larger items.
This review process could lead to big change, and they are saying that all options have to be looked at for the end of the contract with Veolia’s incinerator in 2019. The ‘Buy it-Throw it-Burn it’ approach could be coming to an end, as all waste will have a value and a use in future, instead of being disposed.
This has been a well-timed and well-argued campaign by Friends of the Earth, with achievable (and completely reasonable) aims. We hope we have made a real difference to the City and the wider environment. Further progress by the Council will be watched with interest and we will publicise changes in this newsletter.