Waste Management Update Report
The Committee were presented with the Waste Management Update Report. The purpose of this report was to provide Members with an update on Waste Management & Street Cleansing projects & performance in the 2022 calendar year.
The Waste Projects and Compliance Officer highlighted key areas of the report which included:
- In November 2022 the Council’s Recycling, Refuse & Street Cleansing frontline staff were provided with a new orange uniform. The new uniform has made the staff within these services look smarter, as well as more visible on dark mornings. Feedback from staff had been positive.
- Members attention was drawn to p.35 section 3.1 which gave an overview of the recycling performance for 2022. It was highlighted that if 2022 was compared to 2020/21 then there had been a slight drop in recycling, however if compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019 then this year had seen a rise in recycling of 4%. It was noted that during 2020/21 there was a higher amount of recycling due to the increase of online ordering during the lock down periods.
The Committee were informed that in relation to food waste recycling, 2022 had seen a 19% decline. This drop was however consistent with the rest of Kent. The Waste Projects and Compliance officer stated that with the current economic climate, this could have been due to residents not wasting food and a reduction in consumption levels.
- The Waste and Projects Compliance Officer explained how contamination of waste in 2022 had improved slightly. He advised Members that since January 2023 KCC has become more stringent with the waste they would accept and rejected 65 tonnes of recycling due to contamination, this in turn was a cost to the Council. In order to mitigate this going forward, the crew had undertaken further training and were required to put red stickers on contaminated resident bins, that must be rejected due to contamination. There had also been an education campaign for residents.
- Fly tipping incidents had fallen in 2022 by 8.9%. Waste management and the Environment Enforcement team continued to work closely to combat the issue. It was noted that 2022 had seen a reduction in tonnage of 12.7%.
- Members attention was drawn to section 3.4 of the report. The Kent Resource Partnership (KRP) organised residual waste (black sack waste) audits to be conducted in May 2022 in all Kent districts. The findings from the audit revealed that in Gravesham, 2.8 kilograms of waste per household per week could have been recycled at the kerbside.
- Gravesham had continued to increase the number of flats that were offered a recycling service.
- The Street Champions initiative was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by IESE in January 2022 and Gravesham Borough Councils’ Waste Management Team were also shortlisted for two awards in the ‘Local Authority Success’ Category at the National Recycling Awards 2022
- Members we informed that in 2022 the team had undertaken a one off project to clear alleyways which had become overgrown/suffered from fly-tipping, whether the alleys were privately- or council owned.
The Waste and Projects Compliance Officer informed the Committee of the future projects for 2023 in section 5 of the report. These included:
- To review the current vehicle fleet to identify options to introduce alternative-fuelled vehicles and thereby reduce carbon emissions.
- Continue to communicate with residents about the changes to bank holiday waste collections from 2023, which meant there would be no change to the normal collection day over bank holiday periods (apart from Christmas).
- Continuing to focus on recycling contamination & participation.
- Continue to work with schools on environmental projects.
- Re-launching kerbside battery collections.
- Looking for funding opportunities to install small electrical collection points at recycling points across the borough, so that residents could easily recycle small electrical items like kettles and toasters.
- Introducing Business Champions. This would be a similar scheme to the successful Street Champions and would enable shopkeepers to keep the road & pavement outside their business clean & tidy between daily visits by Street Cleansing Operatives.
The Committee were invited to ask questions and make comment.
Members sought clarification regarding excess waste outlined in section 3.2 of the report. It was noted that the report expressed that whilst in 2022 there was a 95.3% reduction in instances of residents putting out excess black sacks and there was a 4.4% reduction in household waste collected in 2022 compared to a 5.9% increase the previous year. It was felt that this reduction of 4.4% should be expressed in a positive way to express to the resident that they were doing well, but this could be improved. The Waste and Projects Compliance Officer advised 4.4% decrease was still an improvement compared to a 5.9% increase in 2021.
The Committee queried the method of recycling in bags as a number of supermarket did not stock clear bags and so some residents may use alternative bags to store their recycling, the Assistant Director (Operations) advised if the resident had a recycling bin, the recommended method would be to put the recycling into the bin loose, so it was clear for the operative to see if the bin was contaminated. He also advised Members that there would be videos produced to communicate to residents the process waste undertook, once collected.
Members questioned what the difference was by Gravesham disposing of contaminated waste rather than it being taken directly to the KCC Recycling Centre by the resident. The Director (Operations) confirmed that the recycling centre would undertake stringent checks to ensure the waste was disposed of correctly.
The Committee commended the idea to re-introduce battery recycling and wondered if there was scope to offer boxes for collection at schools, local shops and the Gurdwara, which had a large footfall. The Waste and Projects Compliance Officer informed Members that large retailers which sold over a set threshold of batteries, must provide a return point for recycling. He advised that recycling schemes were open to outside organisations, so this could be investigated. The recycling boxes were easy for an organisation to manage as they are marked with a returns telephone number, so once full the organisation could arrange collection. The Assistant Director (Operations) would also make contact with Parish Councils to encourage this approach.
Member raised concern regarding the appearance of the proposed electrical recycling points. The Waste and Projects Compliance Officer advised that the photo within the report was only an example and the colour of the unit could be changed. He went on to inform the Committee that the electrical collection points would be placed in existing recycling spots, so would not be out of place. This scheme had been adopted by other Councils in the UK but not in Kent yet. After further discussion Members were informed that the collection point could accept any small electrical item that could fit through the 30cm by 40cm slot.
Clarification was sought as to why the Street Champions only had orange bags for litter picking and not clear for recycling, especially when the majority of litter dropped was recyclable. Members were advised that Street Champions received both types of bags, to enable recycling.
Members asked if the recycling collection could include the collection of glass, as disposing of glass was not easy for residents that were unable to drive. The Assistant Director (Operations) alluded that the service may be provided in the future.
The Committee commended the fly tipping enforcement response but queried if the Council used cameras to assist with combating the issue. The Assistant Director (Operations) informed Members that cameras were used to catch culprits in certain areas and footage could be used in prosecution.
The Chair commended the Waste and Projects Compliance Officer for the detailed report and thanked the team for their commitment and hard work in making improvements. He encouraged the Committee to inform other Council Members of the great work being undertaken, as it was very important for all residents.