Former mayor Martin Biermann calls for more to be done about recycling rates

Cllr Martin Biermann is among those who are always keen to recycle

Cllr Martin Biermann is among those who are always keen to recycle

First published in News

I strongly believe that the argument suggesting climate change is a natural phenomenon is wrong. We should be taking measures to both combat it and mitigate against its impact.

I have difficulty understanding why anyone would argue against measures being applied to address the likely problems arising from changing weather patterns.

Irrational arguments such as wind turbines being unsightly cannot justify landscapes being devastated by floods or drought.

Arguments about damage to the economy, I suggest, are nonsensical.

The boost to economic development, from climate change prevention and mitigation, potentially offers substantial benefit, (just look at the German and Danish experience). Even if eventually proven to be unnecessary, measures taken will in the meantime lead to a vastly improved quality of life, not least in terms of pollution.

So what’s the message for Basingstoke and Deane?

Well, the starting point must surely be our atrocious recycling record.

Gazette chief reporter Emily Roberts’ analysis of why other districts are performing better, and whether issuing of larger recycling bins and smaller general waste (black) bins would help, certainly points to a potential step forward. But the whole point is that we should not be creating so much waste in the first place!

How is it that some households can manage on one black bin collection per month, or even less, and yet others fill their bins to overflowing in just a week?

It is a question of lifestyle and – to some extent – even how a bin is packed. For instance, many green bins are seen overflowing just because householders have not taken the trouble to flatten boxes before placing them in the bin.

So what should the borough council be doing to improve things?

Well, for a start, the four political parties should remove their misplaced, short-term, populist obsession with “defending” weekly collections.

Whatever Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says, alternate weekly collections are a fact of life with many councils, and within that a great number of Tory councils.

If Basingstoke and Deane was to conduct a study and conclude that alternate weekly collections are no cheaper and would not improve recycling, then it should not be introduced.

However, if it remains the case (as it was some time back) that something in excess of £1million could be saved and recycling rates would leap, then that should obviously be given serious consideration.

I suspect that this might be the painful truth which currently faces Cllr Robert Donnell.

Some residents may recall that many years ago, when the borough decided to move to wheelie bins from plastic sacks, there was a public outcry about that.

If I remember correctly, one of the more logical objections was about the extra space which the black bins would take up compared with the frames holding the plastic sacks.

However, the then council administration saw an overall benefit in wheelie bins (not least for the collection crews) and pressed on with their introduction. How many residents would now wish to go back to sacks, I wonder?

But I ask the question of how to actually reduce waste. The scandal of our society is the amount of food going to waste. Much of it finishes up in our black bins.

One of the understandable concerns of many residents is that to prolong the gaps between bin collections in hot summer months could make the bins very unappetising.

For those people unable to compost, the problem is more difficult.

Accordingly, the council’s next big move on waste collection should be the introduction of food waste collection.

Not only is such material a very valuable resource, its removal from black bins would constitute a significant game changer in black bin management.

Even the folks up at the incinerator would be delighted because the food component is not exactly the best fuel for their burner.

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