Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council should not be content to pursue modest improvements in household recycling but should push its new contractor to deliver best practice.

8 October 2017

How we generate and handle the waste we create as a society is a key concern for anyone who wants to promote sustainable living and reduce our adverse impact on the environment.

The "green movement" advocates moving from a "linear economy" - take, make and dispose to a "circular economy" that maximises the use of resources, minimises waste and pollution, encourages the production of longer lasting products and uses renewable energy. We want to see lower consumption, less waste and reduced packaging but we must also address waste collection and recycling.

Tonbridge & Malling Borough's waste collection contract with Veolia runs out in February 2019. The value of the existing contracts for refuse, recycling and street cleansing services is around £3.8m per annum and provides a service to over 52,000 households.

TMBC is starting to plan for a new regime and proposals for a new service will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (11th).

These are just some of the key issues:

  • A programme of education and information
  • Ambitious but achievable recycling targets
  • More kerbside recycling collection
  • Importance of separation to increase value
  • Garden waste and home composting
  • Food waste
  • Consultation before decision
  • Trials and pilot schemes

Although we welcome aspects of the proposed new service, we feel that TMBC is not taking this opportunity to make a significant improvement in performance. For 2014/15 Tonbridge & Malling ranked 198 out of 351 local authorities, sending 41.5% of household waste for reuse, recycling or composting. TMBC is performing below average (43%) for England.

TMBC suggests that the proposed new services could increase average recycling performance to around 50%. We believe this lacks ambition, considering that the best-performing authority in the country (South Oxfordshire) achieves almost 67%.

To help our members, the general public (and perhaps even councillors and Cabinet members) understand the issues and how councils across the country are achieving higher recycling rates and a better service, we've put together a comprehensive Briefing Paper that you can download here."