Unpacking Labour spin on recycling rates

collect recycling not spinExeter Greens have accused the Labour run Exeter city council of a cover-up on recycling rates. They say the council’s latest public messaging on recycling suggest a massive increase in the amount of waste being recycled to 49% [1], while a recent scrutiny committee report says recycling rates in the city have actually fallen in the last year to 34%[2]. The discrepancy is apparently due to a new way of measuring recycling rates, which Greens say is being used to mask a worsening situation. Diana Moore, lead Green Party candidate for Exeter St David’s ward said:

 “This is pure spin, another example of the muddled messages coming from the Labour-run council. Their report says the recycling rate has actually declined, but the council are claiming – with great fanfare – that it has improved. Exeter residents want honest and transparent information on important issues like this, not information repackaged to paint misleading rosy pictures.”

 Greens say the decline in recycling is exactly what they predicted would happen with the building of the so-called energy from waste plant at Marsh Barton. Diana Moore, who closely monitors the incinerator’s performance, says Greens warned that the plant would undermine recycling [3]. She said:

 “The council sold the incinerator to Exeter residents as the ultimate answer to the city’s waste problems, making grand claims about the city’s waste being prevented from going to landfill and converted to energy instead. This is a muddled message and people may now be less concerned about throwing their recyclable rubbish in black bins. Here again, we need honest and accurate information. The incinerator creates pollution, generates as much carbon emissions as a gas-fired power station and the toxic ash still goes to landfill – contrary to the council’s claim that no waste is sent to landfill [3].”

 The Greens are calling on the council to provide accurate information on waste and recycling rates to help Exeter residents and are continuing to press for separate food waste collections, a campaign which has received popular public support. Diana concluded:

 “While we commend the council for their existing recycling facilities in Exeter, especially that they will take all forms of plastic materials, we know that to increase recycling rates to 80% – a figure which is totally achievable – we need to introduce separate weekly food waste collections. Currently 35% of black bin waste is food waste and can be easily removed in weekly collections from the non-recyclable waste stream.”  


[1] Read the council’s  newsletter here –‘Recycling News: Stats what do they prove?’ from Exeter City Council 21 March 2016 – read to the end – after the strange stats, the flow chart is good and worth reading!

[2]The council’s scrutiny committee report on recycling can be found here http://committees.exeter.gov.uk/documents/s50286/Recycling%20Plan%202016-17.pdf

[3] See page 3 of the same report.


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