Flintshire to introduce fines for failing to recycle

Flintshire County Council could be set to introduce fines for residents that continually fail to recycle properly as part of a stronger approach to recycling enforcement.

The recommendation was made following the conclusion of a public consultation with residents, receiving 8,770 responses, and was presented at an environment scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (10 December) in a report on the Outcome of the Waste Strategy Review Consultation Process.

Flintshire County Council logo.While only 13.59 per cent of responses to the consultation said they could manage with a reduced residual waste collection frequency, leading the council to drop the proposal with a view to reviewing it in 12 months’ time, 60 per cent of responses supported a more robust approach to enforcement after expressing frustration at neighbours’ failure to recycle properly.

The council is recommending implementing a three-phase approach. Waste collection crews will monitor recycling and waste put out for collection, and where recycling is continually not put out a sticker will be placed on the residual bin, a warning letter will be sent to the property and the property will be placed on a monitoring list.

An Enforcement Officer will then visit the property on collection day, and will check the black bin for recyclables if recycling is not presented. Where recyclables are found, a formal Section 46 notice will be issued. Where no improvement is seen after this, a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £75 will be issued.

The council has stressed that the issuing of fines – which have already been available for the presenting of side waste since June 2017 – will be a last resort and the priority will be running education campaigns to inform and educate residents of their responsibilities.

Speaking at the meeting, Regulatory Services Manager Ruth Cartwright said (as reported by “Residents who do recycle and recycle every week are really unhappy with their neighbours that don’t recycle. We had addresses handed to us, with people saying: ‘Can you please go and speak to them?’ because they were so passionate about recycling.

“With this, it would be only those that do not recycle who would be accountable for their actions. It would not impact anyone that does recycle and has helped us achieve the success we have had so far.”

The proposed enforcement measures follow the lead of Swansea, which banned recyclables from the residual waste stream at the start of 2019, implementing a similar enforcement process with the prospect of £100 fines for those that continually place recyclables in black bin bags and make no attempt to improve their behaviour.

To monitor correct recycling, Flintshire will hire two additional Enforcement Officers at a cost of £70,000 per year, with the cost funded from the additional benefit achieved by increased recycling.

After making a huge leap from 58.5 per cent to 68.2 per cent between 2015/16 and 2016/17, Flintshire’s recycling rate, though still high, has stabilised, posting rates of 67.6 per cent and 68.7 per cent in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively.

Flintshire currently runs the Welsh Government’s Collections Blueprint kerbside model, comprising a weekly multi-stream recycling collection, with a separate weekly food waste collection and fortnightly residual collections, alternating with garden waste.

The council is also proposing to separate card and paper to maximise income from recycling streams to the tune of between £50,000 and £80,000, introduce a weekly or fortnightly nappy collection service and improve communications around what can and cannot be recycled in recycling containers.

The recommendations made by the members of the environment scrutiny committee will now be put forward for approval by the council cabinet next week.

Flintshire County Council has been contacted for comment.

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