BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council’s environment chief will investigate the potential of introducing food waste collections following criticism of a number of schemes aimed at increasing the borough’s poor recycling rate.

As reported on, the borough council’s decision-making Cabinet approved plans last Tuesday to introduce a number of new schemes to try and improve Basingstoke and Deane’s 25 per cent recycling rate.

As part of the approved plans, which will come into force on April 1, green waste and recyclable materials will be banned from refuse bins and the borough council will operate a “three strikes and you’re out” approach.

Amber hangers will now be placed on refuse bins which are found to contain recyclable materials on the first and second occasion, but if they are found by crews on a third occasion, a red hanger will be placed on the bin and it will not be collected.

In a bid to educate residents about recycling, letters will be sent to those who fail to toe the line and, in some cases, a council officer will visit a problem home to find out why those living there are not recycling.

Councillor Jack Cousens, Labour member for Brookvale and Kings Furlong, called on the borough council to implement weekly food waste collections at a meeting of the borough’s community, environment and partnerships committee on January 21.

A report to the committee estimated that if the scheme was introduced, it would cost the borough council £450,000 to implement and annual operating costs of £1.25million but now borough council officers will investigate food waste schemes in more detail.

Cllr Hayley Eachus, Cabinet member for community services and the environment, told The Gazette: “My point of view is that it is important to make sure this is what residents really want.

“This administration is committed to weekly collections. If we are going to do stuff like that (food waste), it is highly likely that there will be an increase in council tax and we want to work to freeze it again.

“My point of view is that it is too costly and I don’t believe the residents of Basingstoke and Deane want it. But what does the public think, that’s what I want to know.”

Cllr Cousens added: “If we look at the last set of data that came out, the top 10 councils and the top 10 most improved councils had food waste collections so it is a prerequisite to a good recycling rate and the fact we have the anaerobic digester in Dummer on our doorstep means we should be using it.

“I am glad it is on the table as before it was discounted as something they didn’t want to do and I am more than happy to push us in that direction.”