South Kesteven District Council will look to fine repeat offenders who fail to recycle properly, residents have been warned during a row over who was to blame for low rates.
Members of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee were examining the latest performance indicators when Cabinet Member for Waste Services Conservative Councillor Mark Whittington said that after educating people on which rubbish goes in which bin the authority was “having to take enforcement action”.
He was speaking mostly of areas where rubbish was placed into plastic bags, making it difficult to identify who put them there.
He said he had been out with the refuse collection team recently and noticed a focus on those living in flats or HMOs.
“Speaking with the guys on the front line… people are just putting out rubbish every week there’s no efforts being made in a lot of cases to recycle.
“Some residents unfortunately don’t seem, despite numerous attempts to educate them, to exercise any responsibility in terms of recycling.
“We’re left in a situation where the refuse guys unfortunately, because of public health concerns they have to take what’s there and unfortunately there’s an awful lot of contamination.
“They have to take it because otherwise those particular streets will just become unbearable after a few days.”
Fellow Conservative Councillor Ian Stokes felt recycling was “not really our concern to some extent, except that we collect [it]”.
“If the public aren’t going to help then we can’t do much about it. We’ll just have to accept what we get in our bins.”
He added that the public get “fed up” with recycling demands.
“We’ve been told what to recycle and what not to recycle and they do put a spanner in the works.”
Independent Councillor Ashley Baxter, however, said he was astonished that councillors were “blaming the public for the council’s performance” – a point denied by Cllr Whittington.
“Perhaps we should be doing some further education,” he said, asking what the budget was for promotional activities.
“I don’t think we do, virtually any… what we do in terms of educating the public about recycling is negligible.”
He also suggested that the end of the food waste trial had also impacted on some people’s recycling confidence, and said a previously-refused textile recycling scheme could have helped.
Members, agreed there were some who worked hard to recycle and others who didn’t, while admitting that some practices across the district had become confusing.
Committee chairman Councillor Nikki Manterfield said: “There are very good residents that engage fully in our recycling programme… there are a few that probably don’t want to and they’re not interested and that’s really hard to get them on board but the information is out there.”
Councillors were told there wasn’t a specific budget for recycling information, but there was an “ongoing campaign” across social media and council publications.
The council, like others across the district, also tagged recycling bins themselves with tags to mark out where they had been contaminated along with correspondence through doors.