The long awaited public consultation on the future waste strategy for Birmingham has finally opened! Everyone in Birmingham has until 31 July to make their submission for online consultation to Birmingham City Council (BCC) about its strategy for the city’s waste.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth welcomes the commitment to an ambitious recycling target of 70% instead of the current 29%. However

Aim 1 of the strategy mixes up as what are 2 different aims, recycling waste and burning waste, which are not compatible, and may be in direct conflict with each other.  The need to feed the incinerator with rubbish would conflict with a programme to divert waste into recycling, as it has for the last 20 years. If BCC keep doing the same thing they will get the same result. BCC should be collecting waste to sell, not paying to burn it. We have not seen the full costs for keeping the incinerator running , but are very doubtful if an ageing rubbish burner can really undercut the prevailing price of electricity, and “combat fuel poverty” as claimed. If the recyclable materials are diverted to recycling, then what would they actually burn at Tyseley? Why would council tax payers subsidise it into the future?

Aim 2: To achieve 70% recycling rate target by 2030 is good, but needs a plan to be developed to implement it.  It requires the collection system to be remodelled, using examples from high recycling authorities, and this needs planning now since contract with Veolia for waste ends 2019.

Aim 3: The aim to reduce total waste by 10% by 2020 is good, but we understand that this decline is happening anyway and we want to see a more ambitious Waste Reduction Plan.

Aim 4: Zero to landfill may not be achievable and it could justify everything being burned to the air. We don’t want waste being burnt rather than going to landfill if landfill is the best option.

Aim 5: Reducing carbon emissions requires burning of rubbish to be phased out, as that is the high carbon option. Burning rubbish also contributes to air pollution levels in the city.

Aim 6: We support the increased recycling rate, which if achieved will produce little residual waste to keep the incinerator operating. The council needs to model how they see waste stream changing in future as it moves to recycling system from a disposal system.

Aim 7. The methods of separating and sorting waste are well known from other local authorities and Birmingham should adopt best practice, e.g. Bristol, Cardiff.

Aim 8: Wastes could create a financial surplus for the council if they are separated and sorted, to be sold on or reused. Mixed refuse has no value, so should be phased out of the system. The council should consult with local businesses to see if the waste Birmingham can produce is of value to them and/or invest in a materials recovery facility to sort waste.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth is very happy to discuss any of the above points and your own ideas for making Birmingham into a Recycling City. Please do make your response to the Consultation by 31 July.

You can find the strategy HERE.