Published: 00:01, 06 August 2014
Thanet council has been accused of operating a waste collection “con” by mixing carefully sorted recycling waste which is hurled indiscriminately into the backs of bin lorries.
Furious Cliftonville resident Lesley Brown says she was told by a council officer that mechanical failure of freighters was to blame and the situation has been plaguing collections for two months.
She spoke out as the council introduced a zero-tolerance policy if householders put the wrong items into their household recycling containers, informing residents that crews will not take their recycling if that happens.
Mrs Brown, of Cornwall Gardens, has been monitoring collections for a month.
She said: “So much money, time and effort has gone into setting up this recycling scheme and yet for two months nearly all their vehicles have been off the road.
“We are separating and doing our bit and then they come along and throw it all together.
“Thanet council gets a lot of money for being a recycling council.”
She has watched as discarded food from her brown bin has been tipped into her blue recycling bin normally reserved for plastics and tin.
Mrs Brown added: “They are mucking up our bins by doing it that way. I would hope they would at least keep the food separated.”
She says that the problem of keeping food waste separate occurs when the designated freighter is off the road and the problem is widespread throughout Thanet.
She said: “ We are under threat of prosecution if we don’t go along with it but it is just one big con.”
Ramsgate resident Mike Poulter of Pegwell Close, said bin collectors refused to empty his blue bin because it contained items from the council’s list of materials that can’t be recycled.
He said: “It is very true that the bin contained four plastic bags. Each contained over eight empty tin cans. This was done purely to stop flies breeding maggots over the two-week period prior to collection. I cannot think of any other method of preventing this infestation.
“The whole saga has been made worse because over the last three weeks I have watched council operatives empty the brown food bin into the main collection bin before the cart arrived.”
Cabinet member for operational services, Cllr Mike Harrison said: “As a rule, materials are not mixed together.
“However, there are some instances where waste has to be combined – these are few and far between, and generally relate to where one of the main collection vehicles is off the road for a short period.
“If staff combine waste, other than these instances, we will take appropriate action through our internal channels.
‘We have already seen levels of contamination almost halve over the last few days and would like to thank residents for their efforts.
“We also want to reassure residents that their efforts are being matched internally at the council, where we are reviewing our process around waste and delivering further training.
"We don’t always get it right but we’re exploring more ways to support recycling and also looking into future initiatives.
“Please don’t let isolated incidents deter you from recycling.”
Thanet householders could be faced with rubbish being abandoned by bin crews now the district council has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to contaminated household recycling.
The council says the tough new approach is in a bid to reduce contamination rates which have reached such a high level that entire lorry loads cannot be recycled.
Contamination rates of up to 10 per cent can ordinarily be handled, but have recently risen to more than 25 per cent.
Now, if incorrect items are placed into household recycling containers, the crews will not handle them.
A message will be left either on bins or will be posted through a resident’s door to explain why the waste has been left and to advise which items should be stored in each of the containers.
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