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HomeNewsOver 3,000 Brent residents sign petition to scrap controversial recycling scheme

Over 3,000 Brent residents sign petition to scrap controversial recycling scheme

Residents in Brent have urged the council to scrap its new recycling scheme, as they handed in a nearly 3,500-signature strong petition.

Brent Council’s new blue recycling bags were slammed for their ‘poor quality’ and for discouraging people from recycling.

Residents living in properties with blue-lidded bins have been required to separate their card and paper from other recycling items, such as glass, metal, and plastic, into the new 90-litre blue sacks since October 1. Collections have also been reduced from weekly to fortnightly as part of the council’s goal of being ‘carbon neutral by 2030’.

The petition demanding that the scheme be cancelled was eventually signed by 3,422 residents and handed into the council at a recent Cabinet meeting (January 15). Residents said the flimsy nature of the bags has resulted in them ‘littering the streets of Brent’ and want to go back to using the blue bin for recycling.

Addressing the Cabinet, resident Sheila Darr blasted the scheme for ‘not working’ and called on councillors to ‘replace it’. She explained that the petition was initially started by a resident due to the anxiety of their elderly parents.

Sheila said: “[They] were concerned about putting the wrong thing in the wrong bin bags and the consequence of not having their bin collected. […] Residents will have more paper and cardboard than can be recycled under the scheme, this will encourage flytipping, people will be unable to store it and it will affect the entire borough.”

Concerns were raised about the ease with which the bags could be stolen, how difficult they are to lift for some residents when it’s full, and the contents left soaked through or blown all over the streets in the current weather. Sheila also suggested it is a GDPR issue as the bags are ‘easy pickings for thieves’ to steal personal data and shredding the letters would just further litter the streets.

Council leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said that the council has committed itself to the climate emergency and hitting the net zero by 2030 target, of which recycling plays an important role in. He suggests the changes are designed to increase recycling rates in the borough, which he claims are up 264 per cent since the scheme started.

Cllr Butt said Brent is not the only London council using the bags and believes a lot more will introduce the system as they look to increase recycling rates and make cost savings. He added: “One of the things we are looking at is trying to generate income from the recycled card and paper so we can offset some of the £8m worth of cuts [in next year’s financial budget].”

On the poor design and quality of the bags, Cllr Butt assured residents that officers have raised these concerns with the suppliers and any bags that have had issues will be replaced. He said: “When it comes to the bags being full, we’ve now opened up the opportunity for residents to have second bags.”

He added: “Even with the current weather conditions, officers have been working with our contractors and when the bags have been emptied there has not been an issue with moisture or water in the bags.”

The blue bag scheme is set to be reviewed later in the year, to determine whether it is working or what, if any, changes are needed to be made. However, Sheila called for it to be brought back to the table immediately and for the council to listen to the feedback. She said: “It is absolutely clear that [it] is strongly opposed by the residents.”

Cllr Butt said: “I understand the point made about 3,422 residents having signed the petition. […] When the review takes place later in the year if any changes do need to be made we can look at making those changes.”

He added: “We need to allow this transition to continue for a while so that we have the evidence that allows us to make meaningful change if and when required.”