Councillor Stuart Collins, affectionately known by residents as ‘Clean Street Stu’, writes on Croydon Labour’s recycling rate surge.
In the summer of 2018 Croydon council embarked on a mission to modernise our waste management. The aim? To cut the amount of rubbish we collectively send to landfill and to drastically increase the rate at which we recycle household waste, to a minimum of 50%.
I know the aim of creating a more sustainable Croydon is something which is close to the hearts of all of us. Like many of you I have been stunned and saddened to see the impact human waste is having across the globe when watching programs like David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet. In recent memory people will recall our own borough Croydon having filthy streets when the Conservative party ran our council. It is abundantly clear that if we want to avoid the destruction of so many of our natural habitats and have clean and safe streets we need urgent and widespread changes to the way we do things.
That’s why in 2018 we introduced substantial changes to Croydon’s household waste management service, to protect the environment for generations to come. Since then I know frustrations with the changes have been felt by some and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank residents for their patience and understanding. Although the new wheelie bin system reduced our capacity to collect refuse for landfill it has vastly increased our recycling capabilities, by over 200%. As a result of this change we’ve seen our headline recycling rate sore by over 9% and reach 49% as a total, just 1% shy of our 2018 manifesto commitment.
We’ve achieved this by reducing the waste tonnage we send to landfill by 20% and the council has recently been recognised with a national award for our efforts to increase recycling.
As well as the change to household waste its really been by expanding our programmes to educate people which has been the key to our success. Educational videos released by the council and our strategic waste partners have been well received on social media and accessed by residents through their MyCroydon account.
Efforts have been made to visit schools and educate the next generation on the importance of ‘reducing, re-using and recycling’, rather than simply throwing things away. 50 schools have been visited in the programme so far, reaching over 14,000 students, with more planned for the future.
We’ve also been innovative in addressing the quirky problems which arise in the way many modern products are manufactured, such as pet food pouches, which make them difficult to recycle. Council clean and green officer Andrew Dickson has been working with Friends of Earth to create a special recycling pipeline for pet food products which can be dropped off at the Morrisons on Fiveways. This trial has been so successful we are making it more widely available through consultation with your local ward councillors, which could bring the pet food waste bins to your local area.
And finally as our plans continue to evolve we are giving residents who live above shops and parades the ability to recycle weekly, with purple bags for landfill and new clear bags for mixed recycling. This system has already started in other Boroughs and is proving an efficient way to increase the recycling rate and help enforce penalties against people who add to street waste by fly tipping black bags in areas with homes above shop fronts.
With just 1% to go to reach our manifesto target for recycling we are more determined than ever to protect our environment and build a cleaner and safer Croydon.
‘Clean Street Stu’ Councillor Stuart Collins is the Cabinet member for Clean Green Croydon & Deputy Leader of Croydon Council.