Mixed picture as York Council set to agonise over move to 3 weekly recycling collections

The latest figures from the government reveal that York increased its recycling rate in the latest period for which statistics are available (2019/20)

Map of ‘household waste’ recycling rates for individual local
authorities, England, 2019/20. click graphic for full report

The figures are revealed as the Council agonises over plans to introduce 3 weekly recycling collections. The proposal attracted a large number of comments (22,000) when residents views were sought.

The Council perhaps needs to look a little further at waste volumes in the City and how they can be controlled.

Source open data

As the graph indicates, total waste produced – despite an increasing population – has remained fairly static over the last decade. The volume going to the Allerton Waste Recovery Centre (and, before 2018, landfill) has also been fairly steady.

The role of the commercial and voluntary sectors in mopping up unwanted articles cannot be under-estimated. Clothing banks are widespread and these are supplemented by doorstep collections.

Surplus food giveaways are gaining in popularity while “Freecycle” style schemes are encouraging more reuse of many household items.

It’s 10 years since the Council abandoned its plans for a salvage and reuse site. Perhaps its time to revive that project?

In the meantime, some attention to the effects of lockdown in the City is needed.

Nationally lockdown 1 saw both the volume and composition of household waste shift to levels seen during a “traditional Christmas period”, with some local authorities seeing a 30% increase in dry recycling volume.  With many people working from home and businesses reducing their output, especially in the hospitality sector, more plastic and glass in particular has been sent for recycling from households.

Not surprisingly there was a reduction in commercial waste volumes.

What the long term effects of more people working from home will be needs to be factored into the York Councils forward planning.

Recycling – public have their say

The Council says that it has received over 7,000 responses and 22,000 comments during the recent recycling consultation

It faces a major dilemma now as it tries to reconcile its wish to reduce the costs of the waste collection service with residents aspirations.

Waste collection has consistently rated as the top public service when residents have been asked to rank the services provided by the Council.

Councillors know that the existing refuse collection service gets good approval ratings in the surveys that they conduct.

The key question – so far unanswered – is “if it ain’t broke, why fix it”?

The Councils media release reads “City of York Council would like to thank all residents who provided their feedback during the recycling changes consultation

The consultation has seen one of the largest responses to-date, with over 7,000 submissions and over 22,000 comments.

The 6-week consultation ended Tuesday (11 May) and will now be taken to an Executive meeting on 20 June, after collating the responses.

In addition to the online survey, the council commissioned a series of independently run focus groups to ensure as many residents’ view could be reflected in the final findings.

The focus groups encompassed views from residents across the city, including residents living in terraced properties, and were staggered over a period of time to ensure key themes emerging from the online consultation were able to be explored further.

The proposals come at a time when the focus on improving our environment has never been more important. The council wants to explore how it can collect recycling in a way that minimises our impact on the environment, improves the service on offer for residents and maximises our opportunity to recycle.

Recycling waste is cheaper than collecting items in black bins (household waste) and therefore residents can help the council save money whilst protecting the environment. The proposals also include the order of new waste and recycling fleet”.

Council inundated with responses to recycling consultation

Refuse collection changes are a concern in York

It seems, for once, that the York Council has had a large response to its consultation on plans to introduce 3 weekly recycling collections.

A decision on the plan, due this month, is being deferred into June.

A report, contained in the forward decision making programme, says,

Given the incredible engagement with the consultation and the large volume of responses, this report will be deferred until the 24 June 2021 allow the responses to be fully considered before Executive are asked to determine next steps”.

We are not surprised.

Bin emptying is one of the few public services provided by the Council that virtually everyone uses. There are unresolved issues for many residents with the proposals. Lack of storage space for 3 bins and 2 boxes was something that troubles many.

The Council has (not for the first time) boxed itself into a corner with a delay in ordering replacement refuse collection vehicles. Such vehicles have long lead in times.

A decision on bin design is needed before any vehicle orders can be placed.

In the meantime, more of the existing refuse collection fleet will reach the end of its service life, with possible implications for vehicle reliability.

On 1st April 2021 the Council  placed an order worth £400,000 for the purchase of new wheeled bins. 

Council struggling with refuse collection

It looks like the Council is struggling to provide a reliable waste collection service again.

Their web site reveals multiple failures this week. One of the reasons given is vehicle unreliability with an aging fleet partly to blame. Such a shame that replacement vehicles were not ordered on time.

Garden waste collection unreliable this week

Some streets cleaner

Good to see that progress has been made in clearing moss and detritus from the Grange Lane – Chapelfields Road snicket. Nearby hydrants sign – damaged 2 years ago – has still not been repaired

and the lane to the rear of the Front Street/ Beaconsfield Street is tidier than it has been for some time

March of the mattresses

We seem to have a blight of fly tipped mattresses in west York.

We reported one that had been dumped behind the railings on the Kingsway West/Green Lane snicket a few weeks ago. It’s still there as the Council claim that it is on “private land”. It’s actually on land that has traditionally been maintained by an internal drainage board. The authorities need to come to an agreement on how the “public realm” will be kept tidy in future.

Elsewhere a mattress appeared on Foxwood Park and was subsequently set on fire.

And another has been duimped on the Chapelfields Road – Wetherby Road snicket.

We think that it is about time manufacturers to come up with an accessible recycling system for bulky items like these.

Council waste collection “consultation” labeled naïve

The York Council has launched an online consultation today, apparently aimed at justifying its plans to move to 3 weekly recycling collections.

click to take survey

The muddled questionnaire includes several leading questions (will anyone say that they don’t care about the environment?).

It is naive

Waste collection is one Council service that every taxpayer uses. Everyone will have an opinion. They’ll struggle to express their priorities via this exercise.

It fails to to provide any meaningful background.

The costs and effectiveness of the existing system are not mentioned.

We aren’t told how much “extra” recycling the new arrangement would be targeted to produce. Our guess is very little – indeed if people, for practical reasons, choose not to have the new bins, then residual waste volumes could increase.

The practicalities of using larger bins, as well as boxes for paper storage, are not explored. These are likely to be acute in terraced streets and at some blocks of flats.

Given the move to on-line shopping and home deliveries, paper and cardboard volumes are set to increase. For some households two boxes to collect 3 weeks volume of paper waste will be inadequate

On the other hand, some residents will favour the use of a (mixed) wheeled bin to collect bottles and plastic. This is a a more secure arrangement than boxes in high winds although the same could be said of paper collection.

The stuttering performance of the household recycling sites is not explored. A missed opportunity given the long queues seen at Hazel Court recently (and the increase in fly tipping)

The Council’s initiative has little to do with increasing recycling rates. It is simply about cutting costs.

The plan to collect green garden waste between December and March is execrable. Effectively it would mean empty lorries touring York’s streets unnecessarily. Staff would be better used if they were redeployed onto winter maintenance, verge edging and other tasks during the winter.

There is no “Should we change or should we stick with the status quo?” final option

A council confident about its policies would include that question.

Ironically on the same day that this consultation was issued the Council wound up its SJB recycling company.

It expects to receive a £300,000 dividend from winding up the company which it jointly owns with the North Yorkshire County Council.

York Council report 30/3/21 click to read in full

Recycling changes – Council to consult on only one option.

A report on changes to recycling collection in York was discussed at a meeting which took place on 3rd March. Three options were considered.

  • . The council could focus on programmes to help encourage
    residents to recycle more.
  • Maintaining the weekly collection principle changes could be
    made which increase capacity by supplying new containers,
    enabling residents to collect more of their recycling.
  • Maintaining the weekly collection principle, changes could be
    made to increase the range of materials collected.

A few days later these options had metamorphosed into something more specific. Without any prior consultation, or even notice, a Council committee on 25th March were offered three new options.

click to access

The committee eliminated options A and C and an official has now (26/3/21) confirmed that residents will only be consulted on Option B.

This would involve a reduction in the collection frequency to 3 weekly for recycling and garden waste. Storage space for an extra wheeled bin will be needed. Each property would have 3 wheeled bins plus 2 recycling boxes (for paper). There are no changes proposed to grey bin emptying which would continue on a fortnightly basis.

Rather bizarrely option B also involves green waste collection throughout the whole year although the amount of green waste presented between December and March has historically been tiny.

This whole exercise looks to have been rushed through in a belated attempt to influence the specification of new collection vehicles which are needed urgently to replace the existing obsolescent, and unreliable, fleet.

It is unclear how the Council will consult on their preferred option or even if the status quo will be a choice that is offered,

Hazel Court waste site queues

To understand the real reasons behind why queuing traffic is causing congestion problems at York’s central waste collection site you have to go back a few years.

Until 2012, York operated three civic amenity (recycling) sites that residents could use to dispose of unwanted items. One (at Beckfield Lane) was located on the west of the City, as second (Towthorpe) was located in the east with the third being Hazel Court.

In 2009 the Council announced a plan to create a salvage and reuse centre. It was likely to be located at the existing waste transhipment centre at Harewood Whin. It aimed to go a step further in encouraging the reuse of items that had not reached the end of their lives. Reuse/salvage has less environmental impact than either incineration (or even recycling)

Residents opposed the closure of the Beckfield Lane recycling centre

A new Labour administration – elected in 2011 – made two mistakes. It scrapped plans for the salvage centre and simultaneously announced the closure of the Beckfield Lane site.

The site was subsequently developed for housing.

In effect, 75% of the City now tries to funnel its waste through the Hazel Court site.

There are some alternatives. So called “bring” bins are located in car parks. They typically provide facilities for recycling paper, cans, glass, clothes, and shoes.

The web based “freecycle” group seeks to put item donors in touch with potential users. (The service closed down for much of lockdown but is now operating again). Private scrap dealers also tour and collect in some areas, but it is a largely uncoordinated service. In some areas “surplus food” is distributed by volunteers to those in need.

For many years, ward committees funded visits by skips to estates. These provided an option for those without personal transport to dispose of items. In some wards the vehicles toured the area on a particular day picking up discarded items. This service has also largely disappeared.

The Council should publish details of the amount of waste being deposited at Hazel Court by type.

That will provide them with valuable information on what needs to be done to ease further the demands on Hazel Court and surrounding roads.

Hazel Court HWRC opening hours extended for essential visits

City of York Council is extending the opening hours of Hazel Court Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) from Monday 8 March.

This will bring forward the later opening hours, which were due to start in April – for strictly essential journeys only. The new opening times will be:

  • Mondays to Saturdays: 8.30am to 7pm
  • Sundays: 8.30am to 4pm

In recent weeks, there has been a huge demand for the HWRC site, with an increase of around 30 per cent in visits, which has resulted in queuing problems in the area.

The extended opening hours hopes to address this issue and in addition to this Yorwaste, who manage the sites, have made further adjustments to make on site bays clearer and have increased the number of garden waste and cardboard skips.

Traffic monitoring will be in place at sites and due to safety concerns regarding queueing outside of the sites, residents may be asked to leave and return at another time.

Kerbside garden waste collections will also resume from 29 March. Check your garden waste collection dates via our online waste collection calendar.

In addition to this, traders are permitted to use Harewood Whin to dispose of their waste too. For more information on this visit www.yorwaste.co.uk/commercial-waste/ . Commercial waste tipping times are will remain the same Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 4.30pm, not at weekends.