Recycling scandal is revealed

PUBLISHED: 12:23 09 July 2007 | UPDATED: 11:16 24 May 2010

RUBBISH which has been carefully separated for recycling is still being dumped in landfill sites because the company responsible for collecting it is

RUBBISH which has been carefully separated for recycling is still being dumped in landfill sites because the company responsible for collecting it is short-staffed.That is the shocking claim made by an employee of one of the firms North Somerset Council uses to pick up waste.Only last week the Weston & Somerset Mercury revealed that taxpayers will have to fork out up to £8million a year if North Somerset Council does not increase its recycling rates. The man, who works for Veolia, which collects black bag rubbish and garden waste in green bags, says 'more often than not' there are not enough men available to drive two separate lorries so they are told to cut down to one and put everything in together.Veolia is currently paid a fixed figure of £1.5million to collect the green bags from 66,000 households but 20,000 homes are not covered by the green bag scheme. Veolia is paid per tonne for the amount of black bag rubbish it picks up.Unlike many local authorities, North Somerset Council does not currently limit the amount of domestic waste households can put out for collection.Green bags containing garden waste are supposed to be kept separate so their contents can be composted but the worker says they end up being dumped in with ordinary household rubbish.Unwilling to give his name for fear of getting sacked, the man also claims that when the lorry returns to the civic amenity centre in Aisecome Way, to drop off its load none of the waste is checked in as it should be.The Weston man said: "If Veolia does not have enough manpower it will send out a green waste lorry, or a domestic refuse lorry which usually picks up black bag rubbish, to pick up both at the same time."Nothing gets signed in or out. All the lorries go back to the civic amenity site and go onto a weighbridge."The trucks just pull up and the staff do not even check what is in them."Once the load is weighed the driver will be given a ticket to say if it's green waste or domestic waste."But no matter what is in them, a blue lorry will always get a domestic waste ticket and a green lorry a green ticket."The staff will just take it for granted that green waste is in the green lorries and domestic waste is in the blue lorries."Let's hear what the councillors have to say about this before we all get stung on our council taxes or maybe let's hear from the contractors working for North Somerset as to why they're letting this happen. "After all, they're the ones instructing the employees on what to do."North Somerset Council's executive member for environment, Councillor Carl Francis-Pester says the authority is trying to come up with ways to make recycling easier for people, including extending the opening hours at civic amenity sites.North Somerset is currently ranked 11 out of 15 regionally for the amount it recycles.Cllr Carl Francis-Pester, North Somerset Council's executive member for environment, said: "We are carrying out an immediate investigation into these allegations which we take very seriously indeed. This investigation will include urgent discussions with the contractor to ensure they are fulfilling the contract we have with them in the correct manner."It is vitally important that we keep the amount of waste that has to go to landfill to a minimum and continue to increase the amount we recycle. Thanks to the residents of North Somerset we have increased our recycling rate from 20.5 per cent to 30.8 per cent in the last 12 months."We will continue to work closely with our contractors to ensure that where residents have taken the trouble to separate their waste for recycling it is dealt with appropriately."* A police and council internal audit investigation is continuing into complaints that Biffa mismanaged waste in the past.The council launched an inquiry into the company's handling of waste and shortly after received complaints from two residents. Findings from those investigations are expected to be made pubic shortly.

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