From the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ to gripes about festering dirty nappies and having to bin too much plastic, Rochdale residents are having their say on recycling services.
Once one of the poorest performing boroughs in the region, Rochdale has upped its game over the last four years, significantly improving its kerbside recycling rate.
But there is still work to be done – around 20 per cent of rubbish collected in the borough’s general waste bins is leftover food – despite residents having the option to recycle it.
Town hall chiefs have now launched a consultation to find out why – in the hope they can improve still further.
With the issue back in the spotlight, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has been asking residents what they think about their recycling services.
And some had nothing but praise for how their household waste is collected.
Richard Simpson, from Littleborough, hailed the service as the ‘best thing since sliced bread’, while David Lees agreed the service was ‘excellent’.
“People complain about the smell but if you have your brown bin (for food and garden waste) emptied weekly there shouldn’t be a smell,” he added.
But frustration over plastic recycling being restricted to bottles – as it is across Greater Manchester (bar Wigan) – came up again and again.
Other areas around the country can recycle items such as yoghurt pots, margarine and ice cream tubs.
But in our region, chiefs say there is no ‘sustainable market for different types of plastics’ – meaning things look unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Rochdale resident Shannon Guy said: “We need to be able to recycle more plastics! There are multiple plastics that our council don’t recycle but others do. We can’t be picking and choosing what we recycle.
“The council needs to do a scheme as well like Oldham which give money off vouchers toward reusable nappies and there needs to be more info out there on them.”
But on a more positive note, she says the three-weekly collection of the general waste bin ‘worked well’ for her family.
“Most of the time we don’t empty our bins for six weeks as we have worked to reduce our waste,” she added.
Town centre hairdresser Greg Couzens expressed similar sentiments.
He said, “Recycling works well with my family, plastic is a big issue, we need to recycle more types of plastic – including bottle tops.
“We need better education regarding recycling.”
These comments were reflected by posts in the Discuss Milnrow and Newhey Facebook group.
Gill Smith said, “More types of plastics should be able to be recycled, some things are recyclable but not by our local councils – happy with everything else.”
And Sammy Abbott-Rothwell was of a like mind: “Definitely more plastics should be recycled. I hate putting it all in the bin.”
Changes made in 2015 mean that general waste bins are now collected once every three weeks – as with the paper/cardboard and mixed recycling.
The move was made to significantly bring down costs and ensure the council would meet future recycling legislation and targets.
But for Sammy the three-weekly collection of the general waste bin is not frequent enough.
“Green bins should be weekly,” she added.
“I have TWO green bins and still manage to fill them and have to do tip runs! And I have two cardboard bins too, and they’re both full at the moment! My brown bin (for food and garden waste) usually has about one-to-five food bags in a week.”
And it was the three-weekly collection of green bins that caused the most gripes away from the issue over plastics.
Vicky Hesketh said, “The three-weekly dark green bin isn’t working. People with babies have dirty nappies in if for three weeks, it’s disgusting. I have pets and their waste goes in a dark green bin – maggots and flies, it’s horrendous.”
Karen Gilmour, from Middleton, reported a similar experience.
“We have to go to the tip most weeks, we are a family of five and three-weekly – even if we recycle – is not enough. It’s disgusting – the flies, the smell etcetera, it’s not on.
Emily Elizabeth said she had ‘no problems’ but did feel waste bins should be collected more often over the summer.
“Just during the hotter summer months I think they should be collected every other week at least, then back to every three weeks.
“If you recycle right then every three weeks shouldn’t really be an issue,” she said.
The current public consultation aims to find out why some residents are still putting food in their general waste, rather than using their brown bins or food caddeys.
Jonny Howe, from Littleborough, said the reason people don’t use the caddies for food waste was simple – they ‘stink’.
“I have to go to the tip often and there’s only two of us,” he said. “And, yes, I do recycle and I do believe in recycling but this system just doesn’t work – for the money we pay, at least.”
And he returned to a familiar theme touched on by so many of his fellow residents: “My biggest quarrel is only certain plastics in the recycling, what a nightmare.”
Others suggested the answer to the problem lay beyond local authorities.
“The sheer overuse of plastics needs to be sorted. Manufacturers need educating too,” said Lawrence Glendinning.
“Shirt packaging , toy packaging even PC packaging is obscene.”
Patrick Gollop concurred: “Why don’t we deal with the root cause instead of inventing complex solutions to manage an unnecessary problem?
“The amount of packaging that is produced, shipped, stored and then recycled is ridiculous, not to mention the junk that comes through your door that goes from the doormat straight to the recycling bin.
“Clamp down or tax producers for any packaging not required and reduce the need to recycle.”
Councillor Neil Emmott, Rochdale council’s environment chief, said residents had helped the authority make ‘great improvements’ , meaning it now recycles around 55 per cent of the waste it collects.
And addressing residents’ frustrations over plastic recycling, he added, “The market for other types of plastic such as pots, tubs and trays is not as strong and these are, unfortunately, harder to recycle.
“That’s why residents across the region are encouraged to put these in their general waste bins instead, so that can be used to generate energy at the Runcorn and Bolton Energy Recovery Facilities.”
“What we really need to see is tougher action from the government on plastic packaging so that there is less of it around.”
To take part in Rochdale council’s consultation on recycling food waste, visit rochdale.gov.uk
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