Our response to the Waste Strategy consultation is that it is not bold enough to address the economic and environmental crises we face. The questionnaire focusses on how much extra recycling people would be prepared to pay for. Recycling is popular and local councils must hit recycling targets, but we urgently need to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place and to encourage re-use and repair. Recycling is only the fourth of the “4Rs”.
Changes need to be made at national level, for instance legislation to reduce packaging and incentives to sell drinks in returnable bottles and manufacture goods which last or are repairable. But much could be done at local level, for instance supporting charities and businesses which collect, repair and redistribute household items and clothing or promoting websites like Freecycle. These all help the environment, save money and create local jobs.
Why are the options so limited and why must Sheffielders pay extra to get anything more than the monthly blue bin collection of paper and card? Other local authorities provide a full range kerbside collections.The problem is the original contract with Veolia signed by the Lib Dems in 2001. We are all now, quite literally, paying for their failure to plan for waste reduction.
Even in 2001, the Green Party were pushing for a “zero waste” and job creation strategy rather than a giant new incinerator which would have to be “fed” for the next 30 years. Since then, Green councillors have established more recycling bring banks in Central ward than anywhere else in the city. These are popular, cheap and convenient for people in flats or terraced houses with no storage space for extra bins. They work well in Scottish and European cities. Last year we set out our ideas for diverting the most poisonous and carbon-costly waste streams away from the incinerator.
We proposed a radical way forward, but the present administration prefers to go along with the advice from private company Veolia.
Cllr Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Green Party