Wokingham Borough Council is considering bringing in weighted, water-proof sacks for its kerbside recycling collection to help keep paper and card dry.
Changes in the world market for recycled material have meant that wet paper and card is no longer being accepted by recycling plants – which is hitting the borough’s recycling rates and causing significant environmental and financial cost.
With the council committed to increasing its already good recycling rate, its decision making executive will this Thursday (July 30) consider approving the upfront funding necessary for a potential solution – the replacement of the current black boxes used for kerbside recycling, with waterproof and weighted hessian sacks. There would be no other change to the recycling service.
Executive member for environment Cllr Parry Batth said: “Wet paper and card is currently reducing our overall recycling rate by about 6%, which has an environmental and financial impact. We have looked at all the options available and found these sacks are the best option. They are water-proof, robust and are weighted down so they will not blow away. The sacks have a slightly larger capacity than the black bins and residents would not be limited in how many of them they have – so there will be no need to overfill them or for them to get too heavy.”
The council has considered other options such as lidded bins or ‘shower caps’ that could be fitted over bins but following a study commissioned from independent experts, these were found to be less effective overall in terms of factors such as impact on recycling rates and carbon emissions and cost.
In the longer term the council will consider other options to increase recycling such as wheelie bins but these could not be introduced with the current fleet of vehicles available and so are not a viable option in the short / medium term.
Cllr Batth added: “We have to work with what is possible. Some residents like the idea of wheelie bins and others don’t – but that is an issue for the future because they could not be practically introduced in the borough with our current contract and fleet of vehicles. We believe the weighted, waterproof sacks are the best way to go to solve the immediate problem we face.”