Trend-bucking rise in Wigan bin collections
Bin collectors in Wigan picked up more rubbish in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic than a year earlier, despite England seeing an overall drop in the amount collected.
Environmental campaigners Greenpeace say we’re still throwing away too much as a country and have called on ministers to “show some bottle” and fix the waste system.
Wigan Council collected 42,296 tonnes of waste between April and June last year, the latest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures show.
That was up 4,216 tonnes (11 per cent) from the amount recorded during the same period in 2019.
Of the rubbish collected over the period, 58 per cent was sent for recycling – the same rate as a year before.
The figures count household and non-household waste, including recyclable and non-recyclable objects.
But Defra cautioned that some local authorities’ collections were heavily disrupted by the first coronavirus lockdown, which could affect the data.
Across England, councils collected 6.2 million tonnes of waste in the three months to June last year – down around 576,000 tonnes (nine per cent) from a year earlier.
Of that, 43 per cent was sent for recycling – a decrease from 46 per cent in 2019.
“Covid has clearly impacted waste collection across the board, but it hasn’t changed the fact that we’re still producing too much rubbish and recycling too little of it,” said Greenpeace UK’s political campaigner Sam Chetan-Welsh.
“If we want to fix our waste system, we need to cut the amount of waste we produce in the first place and invest in better recycling infrastructure to capture what’s left.”
A recent report by Greenpeace revealed that more than half the plastic waste the Government counts as recycled ends up overseas in places like Turkey, where the group found evidence of it being dumped and burned illegally.
Mr Chetan-Welsh said the Government needs to stop exporting plastic waste and introduce an all-inclusive deposit return scheme for drinks containers.
He also called for legally binding targets to slash single-use plastics in half by 2025, adding: “It’s time for ministers to show some bottle.”
The Local Government Association said councils have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep household waste and recycling centres open and collection services running as best as possible.
“Any level of disruption would inevitably have an impact on recycling rates across the country,” said David Renard, the LGA’s environment spokesman, who added that rates were expected to increase again as restrictions eased.
He also called on the Government to push manufacturers to produce less plastic packaging that cannot be recycled.
A Defra spokeswoman said less than 10 per cent of household waste is now going to landfill, while the amount of food waste being recycled has increased by over 40 per cent since 2015.
She added: “But there is still a lot more to do, and that’s why we have brought forward major reforms for packaging and kerbside collections which will boost recycling, step up our war on plastic pollution and reduce litter.”
Earlier this year shocking figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs showed that the average Wigan resident produces upward of half metric tonne of rubbish a year each.
Wigan Council collected 403.6kg of household waste per person from homes in the area in 2019-20 - though that was 18.6kg less than five years earlier.
The amount of waste produced by each resident last year is as heavy as four washing machines.
Wigan Pier-based environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy said there is an “urgent need” to completely overhaul how waste collection and disposal is approached, with more responsibility on producers to reduce packaging.
Of the waste collected from homes in Wigan, 52.8 per cent was sent for re-use, recycling or composting - five years ago the rate was 45.3 per cent.
This is well above the rate for the North West, where 45.6 per cent of household waste was sent for recycling or re-use in 2019-20.
And regional residents produced 438.1kg of household waste per person in 2019-20 - 34.5kg more than in Wigan.
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