Leeds City Council has been accused of “giving up” on recycling after agreeing to reduce targets due to a lack of cash.
Lib Dem leader Coun Stewart Golton told the council’s executive board that its plan to aim for a 50 per cent recycling rate by 2020, down from the original 55 per cent by 2016, shows a lack of ambition in the city.
Council bosses will now focus their efforts on boosting the current rate of 43 per cent by removing excess black bins from households and penalising residents who repeatedly ignore rules through “contaminating” green bins or other means. The council also hopes to invest in awareness campaigns and a possible incentive scheme.
Despite the reduced targets, environment chiefs insist that Leeds remains the core city with the highest recycling rate in the country having seen rates almost double in a decade.
Coun Golton said: “Unfortunately the pragmatic response that you seem to be giving as an administration is that you are giving up.”
He added that savings made through recycling, equating to £250,000 for every one per cent of existing black bin waste that the city recycles, should be reinvested in sustainability.
Hitting the new 50 per cent target could save the council almost £2million a year.
But a report discussed by the executive board on Wednesday stated that funding cuts have affected plans and recycling rates have slightly fallen recently.
It led Conservative leader Coun Andrew Carter to say original targets may have been “too ambitious in the first place”.
Neil Evans, the council’s director of environment and housing, said the savings being made from recycling are “going into other areas of the council to keep those services going”.
He said while other areas are reducing targets and some are charging for brown bins, Leeds is striving to hit EU targets.
Coun Mark Dobson, executive member for environment, added: “It is a reduction on our original ambition and that often comes with regret but the reasons are clear.”