Concern over claims tonnes of recycled waste in Brighton and Hove is incinerated

Plastic waste
Plastic waste

Claims that tonnes of waste for recycling collected in Brighton and Hove is being incinerated has been called 'absolutely outrageous' by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

But Veolia, the company which deals with Brighton's recycled waste, said loads are only 'rejected' and incinerated when there are high levels of contamination.

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Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: "It would be absolutely outrageous if it’s true that Veolia is burning waste the public have made an effort to recycle. It risks hugely undermining public confidence and deterring people from recycling at exactly the time we need to be encouraging it. If contamination is an issue, the company and the council need to invest in educating the public and simplifying the system.

"Ministers must urgently introduce nationwide recycling rules to end confusion between different systems in different places, and waste firms need to increase their capacity to ensure that perfectly good material is never incinerated. At the same time, the Secretary of State time must swiftly introduce new laws to require a far higher percentage of recycled material in new products so we create more markets for recycled materials."

A Veolia spokesperson said: "We are a recycling company and we recycle viable material. All recycled material that is collected is assessed for levels of contamination when presented at our Materials Recovery Facility in Hollingdean. Loads might be rejected if it is deemed to contain too high levels of contamination - this is to protect the quality of our end recycled product and ensure the best environmental performance. There is no reason, and it would not make any sense, for us to reject recyclables."

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: “We know there is an issue concerning contamination at the Veolia site. We have launched an investigation and are speaking to Veolia and our own staff about the situation.

“However, claims that Veolia is burning recycling because the plant is overwhelmed are completely untrue.

“Only loads brought in by drivers that are contaminated are turned away, which is what’s happened in this case. This is to ensure the rest of the city’s recycling does not also become contaminated.

"Contaminated material cannot be recycled and is burned to help create energy to power 25,000 homes rather than be taken to landfill.

“It is the responsibility of the drivers to try as best they can to ensure the material they bring to the plant is not contaminated. While we are investigating this isolated issue, all of our other drivers are continuing to deliver their recycling to the plant as normal.”

Brighton and Hove's recycling rate is just 30 per cent, compared to 44 per cent nationally.

For information on what can be recycled in Brighton and Hove, visit: {https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning/recycling-boxes-and-bins|www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning/recycling-boxes-and-bins