Council plans action after figures reveal Thanet’s recycling rate is the lowest in Kent

Rubbish Photo John Horton

By Jodie Nesling

Recycling rates have fallen across the isle, bucking the national trend even as authorities seek to improve facilities.

Government figures released last month show that Thanet households recycled 34.8% of refuse in 2019/20 – down from 36% in 2018/19 and the worst rate in Kent. Neighbouring Dover, which has a similar demographic, revealed a higher rate of 47.1%.

The official England “waste from households” recycling rate was 45.5% in 2019, up from 44.7% in 2018.

Resident Tricia Austen has warned that more must be done to reduce landfill, especially in light of the district council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency.

Addressing last month’s full meeting of Thanet District Council Ms Austen, who is a member of Ramsgate Waste Forum, told members: “Thanet’s recycling rate is poor with many without doorstep collection and public facilities are extremely limited… how do we plan to improve our recycling rates and facilities?”

Steve Albon, the council’s cabinet member for operational services, responded with a number of new council proposals designed to tackle the problem.

This includes placing new 1,100 litre bins for bottles and cans at the isle’s Blue Flag and Seaside Award recognised beaches.

He said: “We will promote this with clear messaging on what can and can’t be recycled.

“Recycling is everybody’s responsibility. One of the major issues with the public sites, for example in car parks, is contamination with non-recyclable waste which often means the whole bin goes to landfill.”

However, residents have been quick to point out there is currently nowhere to recycle plastics. A bottle bank at Dalby Square, which is maintained by a private contractor, regularly gets blocked with broken glass.

Currently 78% of isle households have a kerbside or doorstep collection.

Cllr Albon told the meeting there is an upcoming trial to introduce recycling to council-owned high rise flats later this year.

Recycling rates across Kent 2019/20

Ashford 54.2

Royal Tunbridge Wells 50.2

Maidstone 49.2

Dover 47.1

Tonbridge & Malling 46.4

Medway 46

Canterbury 45.7

Gravesham 42.5

Folkestone & Hythe 42.2

Sevenoaks 38

Thanet 34.8

Parts of Cliftonville West have yet to opt in to a recycling scheme and the use of communal bins in some roads is a contentious issue.

Since the shared Paladin bins were removed from the top end of Athelstan Road, fly tipping has remained but the situation is gradually improving with implementation and improvement to signage, CCTV and services for residents.

Clare Stephens (pictured) of Dalby Square Area Residents Association (DSARA) says having communal bins on their street means people from other areas dump their waste there. She is fully supportive of their removal.

She said: “Of course someone on Ethelbert Crescent doesn’t want a seagull bag in their front yard and they prefer to walk around the corner, but the true impact of those bin areas on those who live right near them cannot be underestimated.

“They’re utterly vile and are misused continually. In the summer it is like living next to a rubbish tip.”

An audit of the square carried out by DSARA revealed many properties had room for collections and that local residents were not responsible for their misuse.

Ms Stephens said: “Speaking for all on Dalby Square, 99% use the bins respectfully, not on the floor etc and are perfectly able to recycle if they were given a leaflet. I would like to see a smaller area for bins gated off and a code given to residents for access.”

Paladin bins caused litter problems Photo Luke Mclean

The issue of the bins being misused and resulting litter has also been raised numerous times by Athelstan Road Tenants and residents Association and the Friends of Cliftonville Coastline group.

Thanet ward councillors say they have worked hard to address myriad problems surrounding recycling and waste collection and are working with A Better Cliftonville (ABC) to restore the Waste Forum committee.

At a recent meeting with officers they discussed using landlord licensing powers to tackle properties that are not presenting waste correctly and revealed a multi task force project is proposed for Athelstan and Ethelbert Roads, which will include three engagement days.

They also want to improve CCTV analysis of communal bins and fly tipping hot spots.

Ward councillors have also put forward further requests to widen recycling to as many residents as possible, provide a leaflet giving details on where recycling facilities are situated and how to arrange a bulk collection from TDC.

Recycling points – non plastics

Birchington and Westgate

Alpha Road Car Park, Birchington

Minnis Bay car park

Library, Minster Road


Sainsburys, Margate Road

Asda, Broadstairs Road

Hopeville Avenue Car Park

St Peters Park Road Car Park

The Digby

Nelson Place Car Park

Tesco, Westwood


Park Crescent Road

Palm Bay Car Park

Dalby Square

Library, Northdown Road

Summerfield Road

Market Street Car Park

Manston Road (KCC)

Ramsgate and the Villages

Tesco, Manston Road

Staffordshire Street Car Park

Cannon Street

Sandwich Road, Richborough (KCC)


  1. The best way to get the maximum from recycling is for all waste to go to proper recycling centres. “Let’s sort it out” yes the staff at the recycling centres should sort it out. Not the house holders. Some many households dump their household rubbish in the street bins retail park bins park bins anywhere except their own bins.

    • The householders should be sorting it out- they should be taking responsibility for their own rubbish to some extent.

  2. How does this square with TDC recently buying new vehicles and creating 2 recycling schedules not 1, with two trips, not 1. And with diesel vehicles. Are we getting more pollution and even less efficiency?

  3. Ms. Stevens seems to have a bit of an issue with the bins in Dalby Square, the areas they are in were provided only recently (as part of the heritage grant scheme) The area taken up by them on the bowling alley side is probably about 10 feet square and contains two bins. This area is generally kept in good order, the location at near the junction with Dalby Road is a different matter and maybe reflects the residents at that end.
    To give TDC credit where its due , these bins are checked and emptied if required at very regular intervals. My view and that of my tenants is that the current arrangements are much better than before the bins were provided. Really can’t believe she has spoken 99% of the Squares residents and represents their views.

    • Everyone has an issue with the misuse of the bins on Dakby square . East side residents don’t have an issue as they only have one small area on their side that doesn’t impact the street.
      West side have 2 large areas with the top area being misused by drive bys and commercial use.
      I know that residents from the upper East side use the top West side area as it’s more convenient. Snarky remarks about ‘types of tenants’ using them is unfounded in my view. Communal bin areas on streets are almost 3rd world in approach and need to be reconsidered .
      Palladins bins on street corners or easily accessible areas invite misuse from those who can’t be bothered to book and drive to the dump.
      Opinions of those who actually live right by these bin areas are the people who should be consulted. Everyone who finds them convenient and amazing but don’t have to live opposite them have the view that you have. If they were enclosed it would help massively with on street litter

      • And there’s no correlation between use either side of the square the size of the facilities provided and the type of tenants either side has? The facilities were designed around the expected use, if drive by dumping is a problem why would people only chooose to stop at one side of the square, same as the differentials in abiuse of the bins either end of athelstan road and those at bottom of edgar road. There are parts of the area that seem to suffer disproportionately, those dumping rubbish with a vehicle are hardly going to choose the fullest bins.
        Just as there used to be ahuge issue with rubbish dumped outside and behind the old Clintons hotel, then lovand behold a few flats sold off and a change of tenant type and the problem is pretty much resolved. Go up Arthur road again the problematic buildings over the years have tenanded to have similar types of tenant.
        Council wouldn’t put the time into catching and dealing with those dumping rubbish and so there was no need for people to change their ways. I’ve been involved in the square for coming upto 22 years, seen and heard lots about rubbish over that time. I even had the bin crews refusing to empty the bin store of my building ( when they used to do so) after a survey by the waste and recycling manager in which they attributed another buildings failures to mine, took months to get them round and accept the report was incorrect and another three weeks to get the mountain of festering waste out of the bin store. The refuse crew refused to bring it to street level , so i did it and they took it from there.
        The recurring problem largely is the behaviour of those living in the area. (Friday and Saturday nights used to the days that people had a clear up and lobbed black sacks onto the path for the gulls weekend feast, the bulk bins have done away with the problem)Council planning requirements and enforcement (or lack of ) certainly has’nt helped along with the way that rubbish is collected has hardly improved things either. A bit of proactive intervention by the council would resolve many issues.

  4. One step in the right direction by Thanet. However there is another issue that urgently needs to be tackled is properties that have access to full recycling facilities (red bag/bin/blue/brown bin) and rarely use them especially the brown) surely with new refuse/recycling vehicles there should be the technology to assess waste v recycling in the areas they collect from? Come on Thanet Council your trumpeting of being aware of climate issues runs hollow with you being bottom of the league in recycling!

  5. Bill is right we need a proper recycling site were rubbish can be sorted through and process properly not just sent to landfill if one item in wrong bin. Also this would create jobs and generate more revenue from proper recycling. No excuses anymore from TDC, they really need to step up and stop blaming others for their own failings

  6. Why has TDC given Ramsgate only 4 recycling points and Margate nearly twice as many. Another act of of second best for Ramsgate.

  7. If Thanet District Council is capable of collecting plastics from kerbsides then why is Kent County Council totally incapable of accepting plastics that are handed to them on a plate at their tips?

    And why is KCC so hostile towards pedestrians and cyclists at their tips? Do they see the irony that non-polluters are forbidden from donating recyclable waste at their sites?

  8. Thanet Council lecturing anyone on effective waste and recycling is like Nigel Farage lecturing people on how to build effective race relations.

  9. Perhaps if the bin men stopped throwing the orange bags for recycling paper/cardboard into the bin lorries the public might be able to recycle more. Perhaps the Council have in mind raising more revenue by forcing the public to buy replacement orange bags.

  10. If TDC garden waste reverted back to “free” garden waste collections every other week this would help (Some Councils Do This). How many households put their garden waste into the Black Bin. If TDC refuse dept did a campaign every quarter and put notices on the “LIDS” of black bins “NO FOOD WASTE” this would help. If TDC put a note on the “LIDS” on Red lidded bins. “Crushed boxes only” The list goes on and on and on. It is time TDC educated the public again.

  11. Adding to my previous comment. So 78% of Thanet properties have kerbside or doorstep recycling collections. 22% have no recycling facility. Only 34.8% recycling rate! Fundamental basic problems here many residents who have facilities available don’t bother! Thanet Council what are you going to do about it?

    • Laurence Davies, I think that 78% is an exaggeration. If you take into account the comments on this thread then you will find that fewer than 78% actually benefit from the advertised collections. I am one of the 22% who are denied any form of collections at all, so I am paying council tax to fund a service I never experience and to add insult to injury I am charged a fee if I want to donate recyclable items to a commercial service.

  12. As a family we sort of our rubbish each week by looking at the packaging. We got our landfill down to one black sack every two weeks. Our blue bin has not been collected on two occasions. We wrote to Craig McKinley and it was collected again. We gave it two months and now not collected again! Now back to 3 black sacks of landfill.

  13. The only reason new recycling points are being added next to the main beaches is that it is a condition of having a blue flag award.

    At least 50% of recycling point/non plastics list don’t exist anymore, seriously out of date.

  14. A lot of problems occur because the bin men do not empty the bins completely, therefore not enough space in the bin for recyclable waste the following week. I point this out to TDC. Virtually every other week, but to no avail.

  15. Many of those residents who have the recycling bins and have opted in are not getting the service. The trucks just drive by without stopping and no matter how many times you report it it makes no difference. It’s like reporting the bin lid being thrown in the crusher on the back of the truck, nothing happens, no replacement, no matter how many times you report it. Again, with missed standard collections, report it but no return, wait until next collection day, with overloaded bins. Then also with assisted collections being ignored when bins are not by edge of the pavement.
    TDC need to sort it out !!

  16. Albon talks as if he arrived yesterday. Thanet has been a mess for years and has got worse under Cllr Albons watch and his “boss” Waite. Blood usless.

  17. I recently moved to Margate and was very disappointing to see that there are NO litter bins along the beach side. No special bins/ containers for unwanted clothes/fabric or glass. Or if I drive around int in thanet and find some of the bins they are always full. It used to be around my place 3 containers for cardboard, glass and fabric but they were taken away last year. Why?

  18. My area of Cliftonville has no food recycling anymore, we were told because the correct lorry us now too big for the street. Despite ‘opting in’ for recycling, and putting out only the correct bin on the correct day my blue recycling bin is regularly emptied with the regular black bin. I don’t understand why it how this helps anyone.
    I have found it hard to find a public paper/card recycling and there are very limited public plastic recycling in Thanet that can be driven too. I would welcome more if these readily available.

  19. Unfortunately it’s an upwards battle considering the amount of people who haven’t yet mastered disposing of litter in a normal waste bin properly let alone knowing about recycling.

  20. I have recently moved to broadstairs i have tried to register for garden waste collection and have been told they are fully subscribed so will have to wait I don’t know how long this will take

  21. The red bags for cardboard are just not fit for purpose. Every collection it’s overflowing. We need cardboard wheelie bins, or mixed cardboard and plastic every week in one bin which is then sorted.

  22. Let’s sort out the TDC admin problem with replacement red bags is bins taking 4 months plus – it’s not a covid supply problem as it’s been this way for years.

    Perhaps our over woke council should understand the basic commercial ethos of keeping a stock or being able to supply goods if you want to sell a service.

    Simplify the recycling system back to one bin and make it mandatory for all.

  23. Has anyone asked why it has come to this?
    Seems to me Homer, Waite and this crew have been around long enough to have this sorted before it became a problem – they’re out of their depth and don’t know which way to turn next……17,000 new houses seems a good idea, let’s do that?

  24. Our recycling collection was missed last Friday. Not just my road, whole estate. Phoned council to report. No knowledge of it. Logged as incident. Checked today on website, no report of missed collection yet other roads listed as missed on Thursday.
    So submitted another report through website.
    Spoke to neighbours. Loads have reported.
    Now we have paper and card blowing everywhere.
    Any councillors reading this, it’s not a good look.
    Will not encourage recycling.
    TDC logging of incidents and communication on website is poor.

    • The problem is that all the incidents are logged then passed to the waste and recycling team and, at that point, they are completely ignored. No point whatsoever reporting a missed bin. You’ll have to wait until your next collection.

  25. The whole waste and recycling service is a total joke. Missed bins galore, overflowing bins and dog poo bins everywhere plus filthy streets where the street cleaners are only told to do the areas near the seafronts. Plus the ridiculous delays to get bins replaced or repaired. I heard the delays were over 6 months!

    Echo the comment earlier. The senior managers and Councillors have had long enough to sort this out and are now considered totally incapable of doing so. They are now part of the problem, not the solution.

    Come the next TDC elections, I’ll be voting for the party who put waste and recycling and clean streets near the top of their priority list and promise to get it sorted for once and for all.

  26. It took a resident of Arlington house Margate more than 2 years to persuade the council to place recycling bins on site. Instead of providing an appropriate number of recycling paladins or at least larger domestic wheelie bins we have been provided with a large number of smaller domestic wheelie bins, to serve 142 flats on site for about 350 residents. At the time the bins arrived residents were told these were the only bins TDC had available at the time. We were given the impression that we should be grateful and this would form part of a pilot scheme for high rise blocks in Thanet. Clearly TDC must be amongst the most dysfunctional councils in the country, with a continuing record of poor performance in its delivery of basic services. As outlined above recycling being one of those areas where TDC is failing !

  27. TDC are to blame. Don’t let them blame us. We as a family use most companies that use 100% resyclable packaging yet TDC still can’t process it. We beach clean the area of palm bay yet they still refuse to process our recycling. I am Not blaming the people who pick up our rubbish and have done so through the pandemic but if you can’t address the issues of a family who are working so hard against the impact of rescyling and climate change then TDC you are doing something wrong! My 17 year old checks every single piece of packaging to see if it can be recycled and you refuse to pick up our blue bin!

  28. So many upset residents concerning, recycling,and refuse collection, it certainly wasn’t like that in 1960,when I was employed by Ramsgate Council as your local bin man, lifting and humping bins,filling up the dust cart doing 4 loads a day, and helped to build the landfill, reclaiming the land from the sea, at Peg well Bay,which D. Attenborough opened as bird sactuary,which was the local tip for miles around, paper and cardboard, was salvaged, and bailed, on site,things have changed so much, over the years but not always for the better, the old ways, worked out better, I can say from experience, with 20 years service, of being a refuse collector, from all your comments, someone, who is head of refuse collection in TDC really need to get there finger out.

  29. No one collects our rubbish let alone recycling. Where can we recycle plastics apart from Sainsburys, which removed its bins for several weeks. If you make the options more accessible then more people would do it.

    • When you look at the way the facility at Sainsbury’s is used and the almost constant mess , you have to wonder why they ever agreed to having it. People make little or no effort to get stuff actually in the bins , preferring to decide that its much easier just to dump it on the ground. How much of that ends up as regarded as contaminated and just goes to landfill.

      • Sainsbury’s have a DUTY to provide those facilities. Supermarkets generate more plastics and packaging than anyone else in the area. If citizens of Thanet are being forced to leave their uncontaminated donations on the ground then it is because Sainsbury’s are not emptying the bins fast enough. And if stuff is being blown down the street then it is because the enclosure needs extra fencing and the temporary bins need to be replaced with sturdier ones.

        • So how are Asda, Tesco , Lidl and Aldi fullfilling their DUTY? Surely you aren’t suggesting that 1 supermarket has to deal with the waste of all of them, people are lazy and make little effort to get their waste in the bins.

          • They all have a duty and all of them are falling short. But Sainsbury’s in particular has higher standards to sustain. When they launched their recycling project in 2012 they raised expectations that they would make life easier for councils by providing public bins. Their attitude was “leave it to us, we can do a better job than others”. So they have no right to quietly downgrade this service.

          • Who are the lazy ones? The people who travel up to Sainsbury’s or Broadstairs station and back in search of communal bins, under their own steam and at their own expense, only to find that the bins are not being emptied quickly enough? Or are the lazy the ones the people who can’t be bothered to wash their bottles, cans and jars before discarding them?

  30. As i’ve said before , i view the recycling industry as little more than a fraud, expect their raw materials to be preprocessed, we’ve dumped our waste in the third world, send more at great expense to europe to be burnt in incinerators which we don’t have as there are the vocal few who don’t like it. So much like our co2 emmissions the notional strides forward we are told we make are largely on the back of exporting our problems or passing them onto the criminal element ( westwood warehouse fire). Packaging that says “widely recycled” which probably means there’s a facility at Lands End and John O’Groats but nothing in between.
    Supermarkets don’t create the problem they supply goods in a manner people want, the problem of rubbish is the purchasers problem, or can we get macdonalds to have teams of litter pickers recovering the packaging jettisoned from cars by its drivethru customers?
    All my waste makes it to a bin and goes in it properly , be that via the refuse collection, street bulk bin, compost bin or manston tip. I’d hazard a guess that the country would be a much nicer place to live if everyone did the same. The only items really worth recycling are paper , metal and glass ( best use for which is into foamglass for insulation) , these should be done at waste plants , that then incinerate the remaining waste for heat and power. The laziness of people dumping their trash next to bins out of convenience causes far more expense and litter.

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