The Committee considered a report of the Director of Environment and Transport which presented the Leicestershire Waste Partnership’s draft Resources and Waste Strategy for comment. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes.
In presenting the report, the Director of Environment and Transport set out the following:
· The draft Strategy had been drafted by the Leicestershire Waste Partnership, which comprised the County Council, the seven district councils and the City Council (as an associate member). The Partnership was asking for views and feedback from residents and communities as part of the consultation which would end 25 April 2022.
· The Partnership had modelled nine options which looked to reflect potential forthcoming legislative changes by the Government, such as weekly food waste collection and extended producer responsibility. Of the options presented, Option 5a, the revised baseline with the anticipated Government measures and the inclusion of restricted residual waste collected fortnightly in a 140 litre wheeled bin, scored best.
· Findings from the consultation would be used to inform the development of the final Strategy, prior to approval by the County Council and all district councils.
· Any recommended future waste service which followed the consultation and adoption of the Strategy would be subject to separate business case and any service changes would be subject to the relevant council’s approval processes.
Arising from the discussion the following points were made:
i. Members commented that references to fly-tipping and litter within the Strategy needed strengthening, highlighting the significance for residents and costs to authorities. While it was recognised that the waste arising from incidents formed part of the general waste tonnage addressed within the Strategy, members felt it needed to be addressed clearly within the Strategy. Members further commented on the importance of enforcement. By way of example, a member highlighted increased prosecution activity by Harborough District Council through its ‘Tip Off’ campaign, which had resulted in reduced fly-tipping and littering.
ii. A Member questioned why only two waste collection authorities had litter strategies. It was suggested that through the Leicestershire Waste Partnership partners be encouraged to consider opportunities to collaborate to ensure a consistent approach across the county, it was felt this would also assist with communication messages more generally. In terms of the County Council’s responsibility, while it was recognised the Authority had funded litter wombles groups across Leicestershire, ultimately litter and collection of fly-tipping were the responsibility of district councils. The Assistant Director for Environment and Waste agreed to pass on comments to the Partnership.
iii. A perception that the closure of Recycling and Household Waste sites for a time during the pandemic had increased fly-tipping incidents, was acknowledged. Members recognised that the causes for fly-tipping incidents were complex and that there was no direct correlation with their closures.
iv. A Member challenged how authorities worked together to encourage behaviour change and whether the options modelled were enough to increase recycling, as it appeared previous changes to Blaby District Council’s kerbside collection service had not enhanced recycling rates in the area. In response the Director set out that initiatives such as weekly food and garden waste collection or fortnightly bin collection would encourage residents to think more about the composition of their waste and support behaviour change.
v. Members recognised differences between district kerbside collection and noted for example that only North West Leicestershire District Council included battery collection. It was hoped the outcome of the consultation could look to encourage districts to have a common collection regime, to make county wide education and communication easier. In the meantime, it was noted that the County Council Recycling and Household Waste Sites allowed for disposal of batteries.
vi. The Lead Member emphasised the routine work undertaken by the County Council in continued engagement with the public and schools through workshops and talks. He highlighted in particular the work by Gazebo Productions a theatre company that provided interactive workshops for school children on waste awareness, recycling and prevention initiatives.
vii. The Committee agreed that it was key for the Strategy and the Partnership to focus on consistent joined up continual education and communication from a young age, which needed to be supported by strong enforcement campaigns, and challenged authorities and the Partnership to do more.
viii. Members agreed that while residents could recycle in good faith, unintended contamination could sabotage waste collection, thus it was especially important to educate the public on what could be recycled through communications. It was hoped potential forthcoming legislation on extended producer responsibility would result in easier and clearer recycling, as well as the government proposed weekly food waste collections that would improve waste separation and reduce contamination.
ix. A view was expressed that a food waste trial at Harborough District Council had been unsuccessful, and that re-introducing it would be a risk especially if Government was yet to set in place regulations around new waste arrangements. In response the Lead Member assured the Committee that even if Government were to change their view, or shift their stance it was necessary for the Leicestershire Waste Partnership to adopt a collaborative approach which the Strategy would allow for. The Committee noted that the pledges within the strategy were worded in a way to reflect that authorities were reliant on financial support expected from Government to fund new commitments.
The Lead Member for Environment and the Green Agenda concluded by encouraging residents to engage with the consultation which could result in significant changes to waste and behaviour in Leicestershire.
That officers be requested to consider the comments now made in respect of the draft Leicestershire Resources and Waste Strategy.