Robin Meltzer, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Richmond Park and North Kingston has urged his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith MP, to encourage Kingston's Conservative councillors to rethink their plans to downgrade the Borough's recycling. The changes - from joint weekly to separate fortnightly recycling for papers and for plastics and metals - were announced by the new Conservative administration without public consultation and will now be subject to a vote of the full council next month.
Robin said: "The Conservative plan for recycling in Kingston will complicate the process, discourage recycling, increase pollution and lose the council revenue opportunities. Given Kingston is the fourth highest borough in London for recycling – and one of only a few that didn’t see rates fall last year, I find it troubling that Kingston people’s recent success in recycling more may be reversed with these much more complex proposals."
In a letter to Mr Goldsmith, Robin Meltzer writes:
"The practicality of asking people to take and store an extra bin in addition to their existing bin and recycling boxes. As you may know, many homes in North Kingston and New Malden are terraces or semi detached homes with small front gardens and often no (or restricted) side returns making the storage of multiple bins and boxes in the back garden extremely challenging.
"In addition to the problems of having the physical space to store the bins outside the home, these new proposals are likely to create a problem of storage of recyclable items for up to a fortnight inside the home. Under the proposals people will have to find space to separately store plastics and metals from paper and cardboard for up to a fortnight – again challenging for many people in smaller homes, as well as creating extra demand for recycling boxes."
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) identified these ‘situational barriers’ as a significant reason for people not to recycle (report here).
Kingston's Conservatives also plan to end the recycling of batteries which will lead to more chemicals in the ground as people revert to throwing their batteries out in the landfill bin. The importance of recycling batteries was highlighted in an article in the Ecologist magazine which stated:
‘…the average UK household sends 21 portable batteries a year to landfill - a total of 600 million units - exposing our soil, groundwater and surface water to risk of contamination by heavy metals.
‘Three quarters of the survey's respondents said they threw away old batteries immediately or kept them for a short period of time then disposed of them anyway. Yet, nine out of ten people would be willing to recycle them if a door-to-door collection scheme was available in their area…’
Robin also raised the issue of textile recycling and the recent Let’s recycle report recommending local councils sell their recycled textiles for between £300 and £600 per tonne, allowing councils to raise much needed revenue.