In March Hackney changed its recycling system in a move that the council expected would boost recycling rates considerably.
The change from green boxes to green bags has made recycling easier, especially for those living in flats, but provisional figures show that Hackney is recycling only 0.5% more using recycling sacks. This is not the step change that was expected.
It is still early days for the new system and we will continue to monitor the results. We will be writing to the council to seek their views on why this has happened and what more is being done to boost recycling rates.
There is much better news on commercial recycling which continues to trend upwards following the introduction of paper and cardboard recycling for businesses last year.
Sustainable Hackney obtained the figures using a freedom of information request. The council has yet to publish the data or comment on the results.
1. In March 2013 Hackney council changed the collection system for household recycling from kerb-side sorting (green box) to commingled collection (green sacks) with sorting carried out mechanically at a Material Recycling Facility (MRF).
2. Kerb-side (hand) sorting produces better quality recyclable materials than mechanical sorting. For example glass from kerb-side sort is typically recycled into bottles while mechanically sorted glass is used for road materials. The council is aware of this but decided that the expected increases in quantity were more of a priority.
3. Kerb-side sorting also typically has lower rejection rates (less than 1%). The rejection rate for the MRF is given as 5.2% and this is taken into account in the recycling figures.
4. Recycling sacks do have advantages over the green boxes. They are easier for people living in flats and the collection vehicles move more quickly reducing congestion in some streets. 21% of properties in Hackney are not suitable for the green box system. A hybrid system (boxes for street properties and bags for flats) was not considered financially viable by the council.
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