South Oxfordshire District Council has been named the best recycler in DEFRA’s annual recycling league tables for 2015/16 (66.6% recycling rate), with neighbouring Vale of White Horse District Council in fourth place (64.8% recycling rate).
It’s the third year in a row that South Oxfordshire has topped the table, although the Vale has dropped from second last year to fourth. This is in part due to big improvements from other councils – the recycling rates from East Riding of Yorkshire, which is in second place, improved by over eight per cent.
The good news comes despite a small drop in the recycling figures in both districts due to recycling in green wheelie bins being contaminated with food waste, dirty nappies and other things that can’t be recycled. These are often hidden in sacks that the waste crews can’t see into, and full lorry loads of recycling were being rejected. New policies not to empty recycling bins containing non-clear sacks came into force for both councils in November this year to tackle the problem.
This has already begun to have a positive effect, and since the new policy was introduced, no lorry loads of recycling have so far been rejected due to contamination.
The problems due to contamination were offset by the councils’ popular new kerbside recycling service of textiles and small electrical items. Residents can leave old, unusable clothes and textiles in a tied carrier bag next to their green bin, and small electrical items, like hairdryers and toasters in a tied carrier bag next to their grey bin.
Cllr Tony Harbour, cabinet member for waste at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be top of the tables again and we’re very grateful for the hard work of our residents – we took a difficult decision this year to stop people using non-clear sacks in their bins to prevent contamination. Most of our residents have already adapted brilliantly though, which should help us stay near the top for another year.”