Wednesday, January 17, 2007

40% target for recycling in Birmingham in 2026

At yesterday's Transportation and Street Services Scrutiny Committee, the Birmingham Waste Strategy came back to committee. This report had previously come to committee in November where concerned was expressed over the rather low target of 40% for recycling material (excluding incineration) in the City by 2026.

It was explained to Committee by council Officers that this figure is based on research by the Resource Recovery Forum on what is the maximum achievable recyclable rates in towns and cities internationally, without the need for 'enforced' recycling - for example by charging residents for getting rid of domestic waste by weight .

It was explained that the findings of this research showed a strong correlation between population density and the achievable levels of recycling. The achievable rates were:

<250 persons/km2 - maximum achievable recycling rate 55-65%
<1000persons/km2 - maximum achievable recycling rate 45-55%
1000-2500persons/km2 - maximum achievable recycling rate 45%, although this is not always sustainable
>3000persons/km2 - maximum achievable recycling rate 30-36%

The population density of Birmingham is 3706person/km2. Therefore based on this research, the best that Birmingham will ever achieve for recycling by voluntary means only is 36%. To achieve higher rates would involve punitive action on residents who didn't recycle.

At yesterdays meeting it was decided to accept the proposed rate of 40% by 2026 for present time. It was agreed that a further piece of work needs to be done by Scrutiny, possibly the Sustainability and Climate Change Task and Finish Overview and Scrutiny Committee, soon. That piece of work would look at the validity of the research mentioned and if the research is correct, then to invite a debate as to whether punitive action on residents who do not recycle is the path that Birmingham wishes to take.


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