New Resources and Waste Strategy takes shape

Last year we invited residents to share their views on waste and recycling in the borough. Over 7000 residents took part in the engagement helping to inform how recycling and waste could be dealt with across Kirklees.

During the public engagement, we emphasised the importance of looking at our waste as a resource and exploring opportunities to reduce the amount of waste we produce, to re-use it where we can, and recycle it when it can’t be re-used. Recovery of energy from the remaining waste will continue to be achieved through the borough’s Energy from Waste (EfW) facility which currently produces electricity which is fed into the National Grid. The Huddersfield Heat Network is currently undergoing feasibility work, but the intention is to use the heat generated by the EfW as well as the electricity generated.

What did the results show?

Results from the public engagement showed the majority of residents would like to see glass collections return to the kerbside, however, there were a number of concerns about how glass would be collected and which containers would be most convenient for householders. We plan to carry out a trial later this year to test out different containers, bins, and boxes and get feedback from people using them to see what works best for all residents.

Currently, in Kirklees, only ‘high value’ plastics are collected at the kerbside as these have a stable UK market for recycling, ensuring they get recycled. 93% of residents who completed the engagement would like to see the range of recyclable plastics in Kirklees increase. We are researching the best and most economically viable option to find a sustainable market and end destination for items collected, to ensure they are processed in the right way.

Food waste is not currently recycled in Kirklees, but over 65% of residents supported this during the engagement. We are looking to introduce weekly food waste collections once the government’s National Resource and Waste Strategy has been published and has clarified the requirements of such services across the country. There were some apprehensions about the potential for food waste collection to cause problems such as smell or pests. However, any collection system put in place would ensure that these issues do not become a problem.

Kirklees’ Resource & Waste Strategy, which is pending approval, replicates many aspects of those detailed in the government’s national Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in 2018. However, due to ongoing delays to the government’s Environment Bill, this may pose a risk to the delivery of this strategy and its funding, as well as create further market uncertainty.

The vision for waste management is to deliver a clean, green, sustainable future for Kirklees with zero waste to landfill and where waste is valued as a resource through re-use, recycling and recovery.

Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said:

“This is an exciting time in Kirklees, with the new Resources and Waste Strategy helping to set out our path to improve our waste services and contributes to our vision of a carbon-neutral Kirklees.

Increasing the recycling rate across the borough was one of the objectives outlined in the first phase of our climate emergency declaration and although the strategy will help us achieve this goal, and significantly improve our recycling rate, it goes beyond that. We want all residents to embrace the waste hierarchy, with a focus on reducing and reusing, with recycling or disposal being the last options.

We also want to make sure that the impact of what we do truly benefits the environment. During the waste engagement over 50% of residents agreed that they did not want their recycling to be sent to developing countries to be recycled with 69% preferring recycling to be turned into energy locally rather than being sent overseas.

The strategy also covers further improvements across the service to reduce our carbon emissions, including bringing more electric vehicles into the council’s fleet – achieving another phase one objective of our climate emergency declaration.”

Councillor Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:

“We would like thank the many residents who took part in last year’s engagement who have helped shaped the Resources and Waste strategy.

Results showed that glass, additional plastics and food waste were the top three things residents would like to be able to recycle from home – in addition to recycling currently collected. We are now putting plans into motion to achieve this however, as with any big change, it will take time to make sure we end up with a system that works for every resident.

Over the last few years we have seen images in the news of recycling from the UK sent to developing countries and burned or sent to landfill. We do not want this and understand this is not what the majority of residents want either. The strategy sets out plans so we can guarantee that your recycling will be properly recycled unless it is completely unavoidable.”

Placing items for recycling in the green bin unfortunately is not enough to reduce waste and tackle climate change. Through this strategy we want to generate understanding that waste reduction and reuse are key in tackling climate change and creating a sustainable future. So one of our key challenges is changing the perception that recycling is the answer, it’s only part of the answer – we want to empower and enable people to reduce, and reuse their waste, and then look at recycling it as a last option. The opening of the reuse shops in Kirklees, later this year, will go some way in saving perfectly good items from land fill.

The strategy will go to Cabinet for endorsement at the end of July and full council in September for approval.