Leeds waste strategy to be overhauled after recycling rates plummet

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Leeds council bosses are launching a major review of the city’s recycling strategy following a plummet in rates.

Average recycling rates have fallen to 38 per cent in the past two years, from a previous 10 year high of 44 per cent.

City bosses now admit they are going to miss national targets which require a 50 per cent average recycling rate by 2020.

The local authority is looking at various options to reverse the downward spiral in the city’s green credentials, including implementing previously rejected or unaffordable ideas like citywide brown bin collections and enhanced glass bottle recycling.

One opposition councillor has slammed the ruling administration’s “u turn” on policy ideas which he said his party had lobbied on for years, but was rejected by decision-makers and voted down “year after year” at budget meetings.

Speaking at this week’s monthly meeting of the council’s executive board, Lib Dem group leader Stewart Golton also claimed the authority had relied too heavily on the Cross Green incinerator to improve recycling rates.

He said: “I welcome the openness to consider expanding glass recycling in the city, and I welcome the consideration of further rollouts of food waste collection and more plastics in our green bins, which the Lib Dems have pushed for a significant amount of time.”

He accused the councilof “luxuriating in the ability of the incinerator to actually reduce their costs” for landfill.

“Unfortunately the complacency of relying on the incinerator means that we have been a little asleep on the job,” he said.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s executive board member for the environment, said the aim of the review was to face up to a changing national and international picture on recycling, taking into account the wider impact of Brexit and other factors.

The meeting was told the city is still going to have “incredibly challenging targets around recycling” and that a 65 per cent recycling target “is coming” eventually.

“That’s why we feel it’s now time to effectively go back with almost a blank sheet of paper,” one senior officer admitted.