St Helens Council has moved swiftly to reassure residents that food waste collected by recycling teams does NOT go into landfill sites.
Doubts were raised after the council switched from biodegradable food caddy liners to lightweight plastic bags. The change was made to save money for council tax payers and as a result of new processes introduced by the council’s waste contractor - allowing greater efficiencies to be made.
The new system also gives residents greater convenience – allowing them to use whichever bags they choose, including their own biodegradable bags.
Yet, as St Helens Council’s cabinet member for environment and neighbourhoods Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron explained, some may have jumped to the wrong conclusions.
“It’s important that we clarify that food waste has always been recycled – and will continue to be recycled,” he said.
“Equipment used by Biffa shreds the plastic bags and extracts them from the food waste – which goes to power a biofuel facility in the Midlands.”
Recycling food waste avoids the landfill route - saving £80 per tonne in landfill tax and more than £310,000 over the last 12 months. Just under 3,900 tonnes of food has been turned into heat and electrical power.
It mirrors an ever-improving recycling performance across the board, with council teams still drawing breath after a record breaking week just after Christmas that saw more than 500 tonnes of recycling collected from St Helens homes – beating the previous weekly record by 150 tonnes.
“It’s a real tribute to the efforts of our residents,” said Coun Gomez-Aspron, “and proves that people are not just doing what we ask them to – but are actively embracing the recycling culture.
“The recycling percentage has increased dramatically over the last year – going up from 30 per cent to just over 44 per cent.”