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Agenda item

Resident Engagement - Household Recycling

Minutes:

The Chair informed the meeting that as part of the review into household recycling , representatives of the Tenant and Residents Associations (TRAs)had been invited to share their experiences and challenges and suggest ways to improve resident participation and importantly increase recycling rate.

In the discussion the following points were made-

·         Members were informed that although Tenant Resident Associations and Tenant Management Organisations play a vital role in engaging residents and raising issues such as residual waste and recycling collection within housing blocks, there was still more work to be done to increase resident participation.

·         In response to questions about the challenges experienced by TRAs, a representative of the St Luke’s Estate TRA informed Members that despite the good efforts of his TRA, a minority of residents still refused to participate in any form of recycling and it was noticeable on the estate there was still some low levels of fly tipping.

·         TRA’s would welcome Council support in areas such as residents being able to access recycling bags and properly labelled bins in suitable locations on the estate to prevent contamination issues.

·         Residents were concerned that the labelling was not clear enough and suggested the provision of larger recycling bins to address overflowing concerns. Other concerns raised included the untidiness of communal bins and the communal areas. A suggestion that replacing car parking bays with lumber storage facilities to prevent fly tipping and dumping was noted.

·         Members were informed that although St Luke’s Resident and Tenant Resident Associations could be described as active in areas of facilitating recycling and levels of participation, only very few residents were directly involved, which was not sustainable in the long run. Members were advised that residents who actively participate in recycling regularly complain about the indifference of residents who, for example, leave items of clothing by the concierge or on the ground floors raising safety concerns.

·         In response to a suggestion on whether converting the use of chutes from residual waste to recycling waste would improve recycling, Members were advised that although it had worked on some estates, concerns about blocked chutes and contamination could not be disregarded.

·         A representative of the Westbourne TRA informed the meeting that the Council needed to address the root causes rather than the symptoms of recycling and advised that the Council’s contractual arrangements may need to be reviewed as one of the reasons for high contamination levels was residents are not interested in separating the various items for recycling.

·         In response to a question on whether the Council would be able to offer assistance to estates that performed well with kitchen waste recycling, the Street Scene Strategy Manager informed the meeting that bags of compost could be provided especially where there were gardening groups.

·         Members were informed that accumulation of rubbish in any housing estate if not addressed could easily descend into the realm of anti-social behaviour and possibly illegal and criminal activity.

·         In response to a suggestion on whether charging residents waste collection like countries as Belgium and Germany could result in an increase in recycling, the Street Scenes Strategy Manager advised that the Council had a statutory duty to collect waste and although the Council could not charge residents it could decide on the frequency of collection times and the number of bags that it provides residents.

·         A volunteer of the Loop project ( sponsored by Groundworks) informed the meeting of her involvement in the Community driven reuse and well-being programme on the Andover Estate and highlighted some of the benefits to the local community such as community cohesion, acquisition of craft skills by volunteers, prevention of fly tipping and facilitating community events.

·         Members were informed that Groundworks which runs the Loop project would be bidding for about £10,000 to build on the success of the Repurpose and develop a community driven reuse and well- being project reaching out to even more people to build participants’ confidence, develop skills and contribute towards positive social, economic and well- being outcomes.

·         In response to a question on future plans for the Loop project, the volunteer advised Members that funds would be used towards raising the awareness of the programme, engagement in informal educational activities to highlight benefits of the reduce/reuse/recycle agenda. In addition, the project would engage harder to reach groups, such as older/isolated men, BAMER women and young people not in education/employment training.  

·         The Executive Member for Environment & Transport acknowledged the importance of recycling but reiterated that in as much as the Council continues to encourage recycling rates, it supports the waste hierarchy with regards to waste collection, namely prevention, recycling and then reuse, and that it was important to encourage residents to change their behaviour to reduce waste.