I WANT to talk rubbish news this week – and I don’t mean the ‘fake news’ we’re all hearing so much about at the moment…
As you know, Oldham Council started its new waste collection arrangements in October.
The changes were designed to cut the amount of waste being sent to landfill and to promote more recycling across the borough.
This working pattern is now well-established as the norm and our first set of figures has just landed.
I wanted to share these and also take the opportunity to say thank you to people for ‘doing your bit’ – because this success is down to the effort of residents.
Changes to kerbside collection arrangements are never easy.
It’s the one service that every single household relies upon, so we worked very hard on explaining why we were doing this and how the changes would affect everyone.
The first comparable set of data shows that our household recycling rate has gone up significantly.
Comparing the third quarter of 2016 with the same period in 2015 we can see that the amount of household waste being recycled has gone up from 36.8 per cent to 43.6 per cent.
Given current trends we now expect this year’s overall recycling rate to average out somewhere between 45 and 47 per cent, which is really good progress – and it’s all down to you.
The public response to the changes – ordering extra blue, brown and green bins, for example – shows you’ve been recycling more and doing it smarter.
This really matters because our future has to be about less waste and more recycling. The costs to us of disposing of grey bin waste is hundreds of pounds per tonne, whereas we actually get a small income for each tonne that we recycle.
Since announcing that changes were on the way in July, we’ve sent out more than 25,000 recycling bins to local residents. Previously around 15,000 bins were requested over a 12-month period.
We’ve also had more than 1,700 applications for extra grey bins, compared with the 300 we would usually get.
These are requests from households with extra waste that they cannot recycle: such as where more than five people are living in one home, for example, or a household has two or more children in nappies. Where households can demonstrate a genuine need for an additional bin for waste that cannot be recycled, we will provide an additional bin.
All the information you need about your household waste – including what you can and cannot recycle, and tips to manage your rubbish – can be found on our website here.
Some predicted the adoption of the new collection system would mean a significant rise in fly tipping.
But the fly tipping we all see in local media is not what responsible households dispose of in the bins provided.
I’m pretty sure that the mattresses, the fridges and the sofas that are reported as fly tipped across Oldham would never have fitted into the grey bin anyway(!). The trade waste that gets dumped is also something we are working hard to address.
I understand the misery and blight this kind of dumping causes to lives and communities and you may have seen our latest batch of prosecutions on this last week: all in incidents that happened before the new collection arrangements started.
We’ll be continuing with a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on this kind of behaviour and there’ll be more prosecutions to come, for which we make no apologies.
It’s not Oldham Council that dumps this waste, but it does fall to us to clean it up – and at a cost of almost £1m a year to you, the local taxpayer. That is £1m that could be spent providing services to residents instead of cleaning up after people who do not respect our neighbourhoods.
It’s your neighbour – be that a home or business nearby – or somebody who has come into your area that dumps the stuff. And that is why we need your help.
Finally, I must take this chance to urge you not to miss out on a fantastic arts festival that we’re hosting in Oldham town centre on Friday this week.
‘Illuminate’ is a family friendly event that will feature carnival performances, a river of illuminated paper lanterns, an illuminated vintage bus, a new youth dance piece, LED electronics workshops by Hack Oldham and much, much more.
Attractions and workshops will be taking place at Oldham Parish Church, Parliament Square and Gallery Oldham from 5pm to 9pm that evening.
We’re also bringing back, by popular demand, the Oldham Giant from the Old Town Hall opening ceremony last year (pictured right) and there will be some amazing 3D projections from Illuminos.
This is the first time we’ve ever held a late-night arts festival in the town centre.
It is going to be spectacular, so read more about it here and, please, help us spread the word amongst your friends and family.