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Political parties in England face off on issues around waste and recycling in the lead up to next week’s council elections


177 million tonnes of waste is generated in the UK alone each year. In 2011 an review of England’s waste policy presented 13 commitments designed to address issues including energy recovery, food waste and waste collection, with the goal being to lead the UK towards a ‘zero waste economy’.

Despite these commitments, the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has stated that the rate of recycling increase in 2012/13 was “insufficient” to meet the EU target set for 2020, showing that there is a lot more work needs to be done and that there is vast room for improvement.

With polling day and the European elections both scheduled to take place on May 22 this year, the race to win over voters had kicked off. Among the issues on the agenda are recycling rates, kerbside sorting, and green waste collections.

In Birmingham, the Conservatives have picked residents’ growing dissatisfaction with garden waste collections as their main concern, stating that it will ‘axe the garden tax’ if it gains control of the council later this month.

The Labour-run city council decided to introduce an opt-in £35 a year charge for green bag collections, and £25 for collecting bulky waste from households.  The council said the fee was introduced as it needed to cut two thirds of its controllable budget.

Conservatives maintain that the move has caused extensive problems including an increase in flytipping and ‘hour-long queues’ in order to dispose of garden waste at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).

The party lost its majority in the last round of local elections in 2012, and currently has 28 councillors representing Birmingham compared to Labour’s 76. It is contending 41 wards in the city.

Conservative councillor for Edgbaston Deirdre Alden said:

“People are frustrated about having to pay for this service, and people are also frustrated because it has been so mismanaged. I had constituents who had to ring up and ask for the bags to be collected even after paying.”

“When we were running the council, which we were until 2012, we worked on the basis it was a price worth paying to take the garden waste away for free. Labour would rather spend the money on a £3 million policy department, which shows it does not have any ideas of its own.”


GPT Waste, the largest UK independent provider of waste management solutions and sustainable waste services.  They continually demonstrate operational efficiency as well as financial savings via their innovative approach to waste management systems and routes to processes.

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