RESIDENTS in the East Riding are spearheading a green revolution by recycling more rubbish than they are dumping in landfill, saving millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Latest figures show 54 per cent of household waste was recycled in the East Riding last month, eight per cent more than in the next best performing large local authority in the county.
The East Riding’s rate was 11 per cent better than it achieved in February last year, and puts it at the head of the Yorkshire recycling table, followed by York Council (predicted rate of 46.77 this year); North Yorkshire County Council (45 per cent last year); Hull Council (43 per cent in February); Leeds Council (39 per cent between April and December last year); and Sheffield Council (29.7 per cent last year).
The figures give an indication of which councils are on course to reach the Government’s target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2015.
At stake is the chance of avoiding soaring Government penalties for sending excess waste to landfill.
Last year, councils were charged a “landfill tax” of £56 per tonne, which will rise to £80 per tonne in two years. The fees are in addition to the costs of waste transport and disposal.
East Riding Council sent 90,000 tonnes of unrecycled waste to landfill in 2011, costing more than £5m in landfill tax, and based on last year’s tonnage the levy would rise to £7.2m in two years.
The support from East Riding residents for recycling initiatives has understandably delighted waste chiefs in the borough.
Coun Symon Fraser, East Riding Council portfolio holder for the environment, housing and planning, said: “What a brilliant result. In these straitened times it makes absolutely no sense to be paying tax to the Government on every tonne we sending to landfill. It is like burying good money in the ground.
“Our residents are doing a great job of checking their waste to make sure that what can be recycled goes in their blue bin and what can be composted goes in their brown bin.”
Others, however, are determined to not only catch up but go further.
Coun Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhood services at York Council, said: “York’s residents are committed to recycling and have helped us divert 45 per cent of our waste away from landfill.
“This year we will be helping residents reduce, reuse and recycle even more than before as we strive to become a ‘Zero Waste’ city. Zero Waste York is all about showing residents simple, yet effective, ways to reduce the amount of rubbish they produce and consequently put in their bins.”
As well as encouraging householders to recycle more, councils across the region are exploring other methods of diverting waste from landfill.
Although plans for a controversial waste-burning incinerator at Saltend in East Yorkshire, on the border between Hull and the East Riding, were ditched in the face of massive public opposition and after a series of setbacks, it is an alternative that has been grasped by several authorities.
In South Yorkshire, local authorities in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham have teamed up to create a new waste treatment plant at Manvers in the Dearne Valley.
The Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham Waste Partnership chose Shanks Waste Solutions and Scottish and Southern Energy, which together formed the company 3SE, as the preferred developers for the multi-million pound waste facility last year.
The company has said it will recycle black bag waste from households in the three boroughs - leaving just 1.5 per cent of rubbish to go to landfill.
In February 3SE submitted an environmental permit application for the proposed Bolton Road plant to the Environment Agency. The firm plans to build a Mechanical Biological Treatment plant and an Anaerobic Digestion plant, which could open in the spring of 2015 and create around 40 jobs.
Meanwhile, plans for a hugely controversial £1.45bn waste incinerator in at Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, are set to go before North Yorkshire County Council this year. More than 10,000 people have now signed a petition in protest at the scheme.