Lincolnshire County Council wants to reduce its recycling targets after a decline in rates — despite the end of Covid restrictions.
Reports before the authority’s Lincolnshire Waste Partnership next Monday show that from 2019/20 overall recycling rates across both tips and kerbside collections dropped from 45.4% to 41.5% in 2021/22.
This is despite the authority having a target of 48% by the most recent year. For 2022/23 the target was 50% – around 1,075kg of waste per household.
Instead, the target for this year will be 44% – a 6% drop – increasing slowly to 50% again by 2025/26.
“Our overall recycling rate continues to be lower than pre-Covid due to lower throughput, and thus less recycling, at HWRCs despite the removal of Covid related restrictions such as the booking system,” said the report.
“Also, kerbside residual waste has increased significantly compared to 2019/20, although this is partly because of contamination diverted from recycling collections.
“Whilst these effects have decreased during the year, it appears likely that we’re seeing a “new normal” – e.g. resulting from more people working from home.
“In light of this, it is proposed that we reset our targets for future years to aim for a steady progression from this new starting point.”
The tips booking system ended in September 2021, however, the facilities remained closed two days a week – much to the discontent of many residents.
The report, however looks at the percentage of waste recycled rather than overall tonnage of waste, so does not note if this has had an impact on the amount of waste through its doors.
Officers hope that actions such as food waste collections, improved communications and diverting other recycling will increase rates and decrease residual waste in the future.
Further reports before councillors on Monday will look at national schemes, including potential changes to make garden waste collection free.
Councils have previously raised concerns about the plans by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with SKDC recently estimating it would cost £5million a year to carry out.
Food waste collections could also become mandatory, though another report before councillors on Monday says that despite a trial scheme’s initial success in South Kesteven, there had been a drop in participation rate from 80.2% to 63.6% by the time it ended.
A total of 1,137 tonnes of unwanted food was collected from South Kesteven homes during the four-year trial.
It is estimated continued weekly food waste collections would cost £952,000 to £1,301,000 every year for the district, which could rise as petrol prices increase.