Hundreds more households added to Northumberland recycling trial

A trial of home glass collections is due to be extended to hundreds more households in Northumberland.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 5:44 pm
A kerbside collection service is being expanded this winter.

The ongoing kerbside collections pilot was rolled out to about 4,000 properties last year, and it has now emerged a further 800 are set to be signed up in December.

But despite the popularity of the scheme, which has been branded “excellent” by bosses, it is likely to be at least 2023 before the rest of the county is able to benefit.

According to a report prepared by bin bosses at Northumberland County Council (NCC): “The trial scheme has been well received by participants with high satisfaction levels, requests for retention of the service and high yields of glass per household.

“The impact of Covid-19 restrictions has had a significant impact on people’s lifestyles, consumption habits and recycling behaviours, with more people consuming alcohol at home, which has led to a 22% increase in the amount of glass being collected for recycling in the county through its network of bring recycling sites.

“The government has undertaken further consultations on its Resources and Waste Strategy and, pending the outcome of the latest consultation exercises and the passage of the Environment Bill in the coming months, it is envisaged that local authorities will be required to provide kerbside recycling collection services for a much wider range of materials, including glass, from as early as 2023/24.”

The scheme currently covers about 1,000 properties in the areas of Morpeth, Bedlington, Hexham and Alnwick.

The planned expansion is due to add an extra 800 wheelie bins across the four trial areas by December, with the first collections for the new additions scheduled for January.

Due to the high initial costs involved, council chiefs have previously promised to wait for news on government funding before committing to rolling out collections to all corners of the county.

More than £60,000 has been spent on bins so far, as part of the pilot, with the cost of monthly collections expected to add £43,000 a year to the local authority’s expenses.

Previously, eco-conscious households in Northumberland had to take glass waste to tips or one of more than 170 smaller recycling sites throughout the county for it to be recycled.

The new scheme means the county is now the only part of the North East offering a monthly service, while the region’s six other councils provide fortnightly pick-ups.

Bosses at NCC however have justified the less frequent collections by providing a larger bin, which they claim has seen many households put it out to be emptied less frequently.

Figures for the amount of glass recycled has prompted some health campaigners to warn of the dangers posed by “risky” drinking habits, which may have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sue Taylor, head of alcohol policy at Balance North East, a regional public health initiative, said: “We know that there has been an increase in risky drinking during the pandemic and the rise in recycled glass is further proof of this.

“Even before Covid, the North East suffered disproportionately from alcohol harms and the challenges over the last year have worsened the situation, with alcohol-specific deaths reaching record levels."

However, local authority chiefs have said they are “confident” that the reopening of pubs and restaurants will see recycling levels “stabilise”.