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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Council knows how to increase recycling but dithers around reducing bin size and 3 week collections

Cllr Timothy Gaston

Cllr Timothy Gaston

Mid and East Antrim councillors have been considering their response to a consultation on the future of recycling which could result in smaller household bins.

The borough council’s Environment and Economy Committee has been discussing the local authority’s response to a DAERA (Department for the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) consultation on the future of waste recycling in Northern Ireland.

The council has said in its response “while we agree in principle with the restriction of capacity for residual waste, we believe it should be left to individual councils to decide how this restriction is delivered through bin size and/or frequency of collection”.

It has also stated: “There is concern that utilising a reduced frequency collection in order to deliver this will have real issues associated with public acceptability.”

The council’s new operations director Shaun  Morley said:

“We are trying to get to a position where we reduce waste and increase recycling.” 

Currently most households in the borough use 240-litre black bins for waste that cannot be recycled.

Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston said:

“This council should be looking after the ratepayers in Mid and East Antrim. I do not believe that until this chamber makes a decision to go to 180 (litre bins), we should be encouraging a government department to go down that way.

“We are just after inflicting a ten per cent rate increase on our ratepayers. I am not in any way cutting the front-line services.” Cllr Gaston also stated that he was not in favour of “going to a three-weekly collection”.

Mr Morley commented: “If we stay as we are, funding may not be available. Waste harmonisation is largely dependent on funding.”

The council has already applied to DAERA for funding for triple stack bins which would enable uniform waste collection across the borough.

Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Cllr Roy Beggs said:

“Previously, we have been told how quite a high percentage of recycling material has been put into grey bins, nearly 50 per cent.

“I would have thought that in our response,  we need to be saying that the Department needs to run with a NI-wide campaign to encourage material to be put into the correct bin so that it is not just creating a problem but encouraging more recycling.”

Knockagh DUP Cllr Peter Johnston commented:

“The response tends to favour a co-mingled recycling approach. The council, for a number of years, has been battling between triple stack bins or blue bins. The response in the consultation is quite decisive on that.”

The director said:

“Without question, if you want as a council to increase recycling, then a co-mingled service is the way forward. It harmonises the fleet. You just need one type of vehicle. It would be my preference but not my decision. To increase recycling, that is definitely the way to do it.”

Carrick Castle DUP Ald Billy Ashe MBE stated:

“The problem is the amount of waste product coming into the household in the first place. At some stage, we have to tackle that as the issue.”

Cllr Gaston added:

“I would not be in favour of this going ahead with the impression we are going to reduce the frequency or size of our bins.”

Larne Lough Alliance Ald Robert Logan proposed sending the council’s response as it was written. “Bin size is something for later on in this mandate,” he remarked.

Ald Ashe urged not to “get too hung up with this”.

“I would like to see us bringing forward an opportunity to have debate about smaller bins or otherwise. We have had it in the past and rejected it. The policy we currently have is 240-litre bins. We have not changed that. To indicate otherwise would be wrong.”

Braid DUP Ald William McCaughey asked:

“With a different response, does that tie us down to go in any direction as a council or is it simply just a response to a consultation?”

The director confirmed it is just a response to a consultation. “The concept of reducing residual waste has to be the right thing to do. The only way to do that is by reducing bin size and frequency. It does not tie us to anything,” he added.

Coast Road Sinn Fein Cllr James McKeown said he would be “reluctant” to reduce the size of household bins. He asked if the council’s response could include comments made by councillors before seconding the proposal.

Cllr Gaston said that he was against.


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