By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay
Closure-threatened rubbish tips are failing key recycling and composting targets, according to new Kent County Council (KCC) figures.
Fewer gardeners are bringing green waste to its Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) because of prolonged dry spells, says KCC. KCC failed to hit its own 50% target by 8%.
The figure was also affected by wood no longer being disposed of at HWRCs and this led to municipal waste – collected by local authorities – also failing the 50% goal by 8%.
The statistics have emerged as KCC is considering shutting four of its 19 recycling centres to shave more than £1m from its waste budget.
A KCC report says: “Recycling and composting is being negatively affected by the loss of wood recycling at HWRCs which, due to Environmental Regulation, must now be processed as waste to energy.
“There have also been lower volumes of organic waste than expected this year, following dry summer weather, with 15% less garden waste collected between May and August 2022 compared to 2021.”
HWRCs at Maidstone, Faversham, Dartford and Richborough are under threat of closure.
Faversham Liberal Democrat county member Cllr Antony Hook, who is strongly opposed to the closures, told LDRS: “They’re not going to hit recycling and composting targets if they shut these facilities.
“What will happen is that people might be tempted to fly-tip or send even more cars onto the roads and all the pollution that would go with it.
“This is a massive issue in Faversham and all the other communities under threat.”
The percentage of HWRC waste recycled/composted and wood converted to energy at biomass facilities was 5% shy of its 70% target.
A ‘mystery shopper’ assessment of customer satisfaction fell short of the 97% target by a single point.
KCC papers state: “This assessment creates insight to appraise the levels of customer service offered by contractors.
“Latest performance is one percentage point below target. There have been lower than expected scores in the ‘Entering The Facility’ and ‘Facility Standards’ sections.
“The two key areas for focus and improvement are ensuring there is a consistent ‘meet and greet’ operative at the entrance to sites and making sure sites are clean and well maintained.”
Greenhouse gas emissions from the KCC estate (excluding schools) were successfully below the set figure.
Targets set for municipal waste converted to energy and rubbish diverted from landfill sites, were both hit.
Kent County Council needs to save £55 million on its budget and has put forward proposals for waste site closures and/or reduction in hours across the county.
A consultation is expected to launch this month with three options for closures – but Richborough is earmarked to shut on all of the options.
The other site earmarked for closure under all options is Faversham.
The three options:
- Option 1 closure of sites at Dartford, Richborough, Maidstone and Faversham
- Option 2 closure of Faversham, Maidstone and Richborough and 10 sites not co-located with a transfer station to close for two days per week
- Option 3 Closure of Dartford, Faversham and Richborough and 10 sites not co-located with a transfer station to close for two days per week.
KCC says full site closures will mean no longer paying business rates, utility costs, contractor charges, reduced haulage charges and where appropriate, lease costs.