Local Environment Champions: Useful Notes from March Meeting

Questions raised and answers from the meeting of 16th March 2010

What can be done to recycle things like batteries, lightbulbs and old cars?

  • Batteries: Under a new piece of legislation, shops selling batteries and electrical items now have an obligation to collect and recycle them.  Oxford City Council have now got recycling boxes for household batteries in various locations (including the Town Hall reception) provided by Valpak.  You can also recycle batteries at Redbridge and some supermarkets such as Tesco.
  • Lightbulbs –Redbridge take energy saving and fluorescent tubes – traditional light bulbs are currently not recyclable in Oxford.
  • Abandoned cars are collected and taken to a licensed Environment Agency de-polluting plant where all the hazardous chemicals are removed and the vehicle parts are re-used or recycled as far as possible.

Plastics recycling – the publications say that the Council only collect plastic bottles and no other plastics, and yet when people put other plastics out they are indeed collected – what is the right message regarding plastic recycling?  Need clear information for householders.

  • The recycling facility that we are currently have a contract with can only accept certain plastics from us at present.  This will change by October and we will be able to accept more plastics and also Tetrapaks.
  • Information to householders has always been clear and consistent that we ask for plastic bottles only.  We will always ensure that any information going out about the scheme will be as clear as possible – could use Champions to consult on our future communications from a user’s point of view.

Some people are leaving wheelie bins outside their house on the path when they actually have room elsewhere  – surely this is wrong?

  • This is not acceptable as it may obstruct the highways – please report any incidents of this so that we can address  it.

There is a lot of fly-tipping around the A42 – could there be some sort of signage around to warn against this? What can we do to prevent fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping hotspots should be reported to the Council.  If it is a persistent problem, signage and CCTV can be installed and a £2,500 fine can charged to anyone caught.

  • Oxfordshire Waste Partnership are collectively dealing with the ring-road as a shared responsibility.  Problem is that sometimes dealing with fly-tipping requires expensive road closures and we cannot deal with the central reservations and areas directly adjacent to highways.  At weekends the OWP are trying to deal with gullies, glass and litter etc. and are using members of the probation service to help.
  • Many thanks to the Oxford Civic Society for their excellent work with OxClean.

A local pub is sending all their glass to landfill – their excuse is that it is cheaper to do this than recycle – is this true?

  • Different contractors charge different prices.  Certainly with the Council’s City Works commercial waste service is it significantly cheaper to recycle than to send waste to landfill, so there is actually a financial as well as environmental incentive for recycling.
  • Legally, businesses are obliged to recycled at least 2 types of materials.

I understand that it is only Type 1, 2 and 3 plastics that currently get recycled in Oxford which covers a lot more than just bottles – do you have any figures on the rejection rates?

  • None of our loads have ever been rejected.  A very small amount of contamination is tolerated.

Quite a lot of litter gets created when the blue recycling boxes are collected and emptied by the crews. I can understand the pressures they are under to work quickly etc., but what can be done to address this problem?

  • When the new system comes in most people will have wheelie bins for recycling instead of boxes which will go long way to solving the problem.
  • Crews have regular tool-box talks where they are reminded not to leave litter in this way – if you find this is still happening them you can report it to us and we can find out which crews are responsible and talk it through with them.
  • Street cleaning is normally scheduled in for after the refuse/recycling crews have been round so should pick up most of the litter.

I have some concern over the quantity of containers that people are expected to have when they might not have room to store them – what about people in terraces for example who can’t have bins?

  • In future it will be acceptable to use sacks or boxes instead of bins if necessary.

How are you going to persuade students to get on board with the food waste recycling scheme?

  • We have a student liaison officer – Maria Warner – working hard with students to encourage them to recycle.

Regarding the food waste scheme, when the compostable liners that are provided have run out people might not bother/not be able to find further liners to use – problems might occur if people start to use plastic bags instead.  Not all supermarkets stock the compostable liners.  How can we get around this problem?

  • Liners are available at co-op, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsburys.  Additionally, Oxfordshire Waste Partnership have written to all supermarkets to inform them about the food waste scheme and request that they start stocking compostable liners.
  • It is possible to line the caddies with old newspaper  – there is a link on the website showing how to fold newspaper into a suitable liner.

Would we ever consider reducing the size of the green residual waste bins?

  • It is currently possible to downsize your 240L green wheelie bin if you don’t need/want a standard size one.  If you contact the Council we can arrange for you to have it swapped for a 180L or 140L bin instead.

Are we within the target margins regarding landfill waste?

  • Yes, we are within the target so we won’t receive any LATS penalties.

When people are committing environmental crimes such as fly-tipping, who enforces the fines?  How do we catch the people responsible?

  • Some Council enforcement officers are able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), as can PCSOs and Street Wardens.  More staff are currently being trained to be able to enforce.
  • Brookes University are now employing their own PCSO.

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