Angela Argenzio
Angela Argenzio

In the recent article on the brown bins roll out (Star January 25th) Shaffaq Mohammed and Lewis Dagnall failed to mention their parties role in putting Sheffield at the bottom of the recycling league tables.

The Lib Dems signed the waste contract with Onyx, now Veolia, in 2001, committing Sheffield to a future of feeding a new incinerator. Labour later extended the contract by 5 years to 2036 in return for service changes. In early 2017 the Labour Cabinet voted to terminate the contract but then renegotiated it later that year. The cost of the brown bin roll out is £6.6 million repayable over 18 years not £2 million stated in the article. That’s 9 long years before £750,000 annual savings kick in.

Greens warned in 2001 that an incineration based contract offered no flexibility or incentive to accommodate new recycling initiatives. Our streets are now cluttered with bins while, inexplicably, those who need extra bins will be offered them 6 months or more after the roll out. In a late January briefing Green councillors were told the only plastic recycled in Sheffield is bottles while all the rest is burnt in the incinerator.

There is real momentum in the battle to reduce plastic waste. But in Sheffield we require enough of it to feed the incinerator the minimum tonnages stipulated in the contract. For a mass movement sparked into action by David Attenborough it’s a thoroughly depressing situation with no happy endings in sight. It’s 18 years of missed opportunities so far with 17 long years still to go on this contract.

Angela Argenzio
Sheffield Green Party candidate
Broomhill & Sharrow Vale council ward

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4 thoughts on “Sheffield is at the bottom of the recycling league tables

  1. Christine Williams says

    Is it true that all the plastic and foil waste that we take to the supermarket recycling bins ends up in the incinerator? If so, why are they there?

  2. GS says

    Can this contract be terminated prematurely? It isn’t enough to accept this for the next 17 years, which seems to be what you are suggesting. Pressure needs to be placed on the Council now to end this contract if possible, or pressure must be placed on Veolia to end this appalling practice.

  3. Anna says

    I agree with GS. Surely our role as Greens is to put pressure and change something! If we just moan, nothing will be achieved.

    I also really want to know the answer to Christine’s question. As a single mother of two, with no car, I trek to a distant recyling point with our other plastics, pushing a double buggy over the hill which is no small effort… Why don’t they close these bins if there’s no use for them? It’s misleading and confusing.

  4. Cllr Douglas Johnson says

    We are told that the recycling collected at supermarkets is taken by Veolia for special reprocessing / recycling. Most of this is in the UK, although the tetra-paks are sent to a plant in Belgium. What Veolia says about the different destinations for other waste is here: https://www.veolia.co.uk/sheffield/recycling-sites

    Sheffield Council is saddled with a long-term PFI contract to build and run the incinerator. It was signed in 2001, shortly before the government required the roll-out of blue-bin recycling, and runs to 2038. Long-term contracts tie the Council in to subsidising big private companies and block attempts to improve recycling.

    It must be possible for the council to negotiate an end to the contract because the Council was looking at this option last year. However, it decided it would cost too much money to do this.

    Unfortunately, the private commercial interests of Veolia work against the need to tackle the climate crisis. Veolia wants a constant amount of burnable rubbish to keep the incinerator going at a rate that is profitable. But Sheffield residents can still help by reducing the amount of stuff they buy, consume and leave in waste bins.

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