The council announced last month that due to plastic “not being recycled properly”, it intends to temporarily send the material for energy recovery.
This would mean residents would dispose of their plastic in the residual waste along with non-recyclable material.
The measure, which has been announced as “temporary”, is due to unrecyclable plastic finding its way into the plastic collections, the council says. The council says it has no way of distinguishing recyclable from non-recyclable and that the countries taking this material are now “closing their doors to plastic”, according to Councillor Maureen Penny.
At the time, The Recycling Association’s Simon Ellin said this was “absolutely the wrong way to go”.
He said: “We don’t have enough capacity in the UK and we do have to export a lot of our materials but if you collect it properly – and Swindon haven’t – than you have unlimited markets,” he said.
“If you don’t do it properly and you jumble it all together than you’re not going to find a market. Swindon haven’t done it properly.”
Dr Therese Coffey – “While I understand your concerns about the uncertainty on what happens to recycling once exported, this would suggest the need for clearer communications about the end destination of exported plastics rather than stopping certain kerbside collections completely.”
In response, Defra’s Dr Therese Coffey has labelled the move “regressive and concerning”, according to BBC News.
In a letter to the council’s cabinet member for the environment, Ms Coffey wrote that she was “concerned” about the impact the decision would have on “future householder engagement”.
“I find the new plan the council proposes to drop plastic waste for recycling concerning,” she said. “This is surely a regressive step.”
She said the government was “committed” to increasing the amount of waste recycled and did not want local authorities to withdraw services “even temporarily”.
“While I understand your concerns about the uncertainty on what happens to recycling once exported, this would suggest the need for clearer communications about the end destination of exported plastics rather than stopping certain kerbside collections completely.”
In response, Councillor Maureen Penny said “no decisions” had been made with regard to how the council deals with its plastic waste.
“Our wider strategy on how we deal with all our waste will be considered at next month’s cabinet meeting,” she said.