Food for thought over new recycling scheme

PUBLISHED: 19:57 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:46 11 May 2010

WASTE NOT: Cllr Lynda Needham at the recycling centre in Cumberlow Green

WASTE NOT: Cllr Lynda Needham at the recycling centre in Cumberlow Green

FOOD waste collections will begin on June 2 – and North Herts District Council is confident the scheme will be a success. From the start of next month, residents will be able to put food waste in brown bins. And the rule stipulating that cardboard must c

FOOD waste collections will begin on June 2 - and North Herts District Council is confident the scheme will be a success.

From the start of next month, residents will be able to put food waste in brown bins.

And the rule stipulating that cardboard must comprise less than 25 per cent of the contents of brown bins is also being removed.

Cllr Lynda Needham, portfolio holder for waste and the environment, said: "We've had fantastic feedback from the public about the prospect of food waste recycling.

"So many people have said to me 'we only wish you'd done it sooner', and I think comments like this speak for themselves.

"Officers have been out on the streets talking to residents and the response on the doorstep has been really good," she said.

John Robinson, director of corporate services at the district council, said: "Since the introduction of alternate-week bin collections we've seen the amount of waste recycled rise from 36 per cent to 40.1 per cent.

"Food waste is responsible for 25 per cent of the total waste produced by the average household, so we hope to see this rise even more in the coming months."

Mr Robinson said that introducing further recycling was also necessary to avoid the "growing tax burden" of landfill sites.

He said: "As a council we have local and national recycling and landfill diversion targets to achieve.

"If we didn't meet these targets there are penalties to be paid, and Council Tax payers would end up footing the bill."

The council is keen for residents to recycle as much of their own garden waste as possible.

Mr Robinson said: "We want to re-prioritise what goes into the brown bin; food first, cardboard second, and garden waste last.

"While we realise it's not practical for everyone to do their own composting, it is a fairly straightforward process and composting equipment can be purchased from the council at a discounted rate," he said.

Ahead of next month's launch, residents will be receiving literature and bin stickers detailing what can go into the brown bin, and also warning about the problem of contamination.

Food waste will be turned into compost at the Cumberlow Green recycling centre, which already deals with the contents of brown bins.

The centre is owned by the Hodge family, who have been farming on the site since the 1950s. They turned to recycling in 1994.

Henry Hodge, one of the owners, said: "Farmers are often being encouraged by the Government to set up recycling centres like this, but start up costs are quite high.

"The waste is brought in to us on lorries, shredded, then put into bays where we can control the temperature and the amount of moisture it is exposed to.

"It usually takes about three months for the compost to 'cook'.

"Once this is done it can be re-shredded and graded, which determines the texture of the compost.

"A finer grading is applied if it is going for home-use than for agricultural use," he said.

The compost is then sold via the Hodge's company, Ace of Hearts and it can be purchased from garden centres across Hertfordshire.

For more information on food waste collection, contact North Herts District Council's waste and recycling team on 01462 474336, or visit www.north-herts.gov.uk

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