New bins could improve recycling rates in Brighton and Hove

New style bins and signs which led to better recycling rates in a trial area of Brighton and Hove are now set to be rolled out across the city.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 8:12 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:45 pm
Vernon Terrace (General View), Brighton Wikimedia Commons by The Voice of Hassocks

A communal bin recycling trial carried out from August to October 2018 in the Montpelier area of the city was designed to reduce levels of contamination.

Members of the city council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee heard on Tuesday (January 22) how the trial involved 29 green mixed recycling bins and seven red glass bins replacing black containers.

All 1,791 households in the area received a leaflet about the trial in advance.

Bins in the trial area showed at least a five per cent reduction in contamination rate compared with other communal bins.

Other areas of the same round had 18 per cent contamination whereas the changed area had 13 per cent, with some bins down to six per cent.

Problems with recycling included people leaving bags of general waste, unwanted household items and fly tipping in the containers.

Changes made during the trial included locking the bins with padlocks to prevent people lifting the lids for large items, removing brushes from the opening of the mixed recycling bins and adding no glass stickers on these.

During a drop-in public consultation session more than two thirds of people who came along side the updated signs helped them understand what they could recycle.

More than half of people surveyed in the trial area did not know they could recycle metal jar lids or aerosols – while a third wrongly thought you can recycle tetra-pak cartons and plastic pots tubs and trays through the council’s scheme.

As well as rolling out the colour-coded bins, other steps CityClean is taking to improve recycling rates include a long-term education campaign and litter bin recycling.

Labour Councillor Peter Atkinson praised plans for improved communication and education, particularly involving schools and young people.

He said: “Any of us who have had kids know they can come home and embarrass and pressurise us into changing our ways.”

Labour Councillor Alan Robins said: “The emphasis has shifted from recycling to not creating recycling.

“We are no longer creating as much recycling. The way we are measuring recycling is a blunt instrument.”

Green Councillor Leo Littman asked if recycling was being burnt due to contamination or lack of capacity, as cited in recent press articles.

In response, assistant director city environment Rachel Chasseaud said it was an issue with one specific round where workers had decided to collect recycling in black bags.

She said: “The contamination occurred with the best intentions of staff.

“At that level it became too much for Veolia to cope with. It wasn’t a case of capacity it was those loads being contaminated.

“We shouldn’t see that problem again.”