The introduction of green waste charges in Chorley has reduced recycling rates in the borough - but not by as much as first feared.
Since May 2017, residents wanting to have their garden waste collected have had to pay Chorley Council an annual fee of £30.
Before the policy began, the authority predicted that its overall recycling rate would fall by 10 percent as a result of the charge. But figures presented to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee reveal that in the first full year of the scheme, recycling dropped by only 5 percent - and there was no increase in fly tipping.
“I’m not saying it was introduced without any negative reaction and some residents were concerned about it - but, overall, it has been a successful project,” Asim Khan, the council’s Director of Customer, told members.
The meeting heard that more than 23,000 households - over half of those with a garden in the borough - signed up for a grey bin to deposit their garden waste during 2017/18, generating £700,000 for Chorley Council's coffers. The authority says it was forced to introduce the charge after Lancashire County Council stopped sharing the cost of waste disposal.
A report presented to councillors estimated that the reduction in recycling was due to residents taking garden waste to collection centres or dumping it with their general rubbish. Members were told that the council is monitoring whether it will face its own increase in costs as a result of the taxes it pays to send waste to landfill.
Chorley currently recycles 41 percent of its rubbish and will introduce tougher targets from next April, when a new ten-year waste contract begins.
Fly tipping of green waste has remained largely unchanged and accounts for just a fraction of the one thousand incidents in the borough last year. However, Asim Khan admitted that, without witnesses, it is difficult to catch the culprits who dump debris of all kinds on the streets.
“It very much depends on the material that’s left and whether it’s possible to trace that back to the perpetrator. Generally, it is a low prosecution rate,” he added.
Committee chair, John Walker, said that Facebook posts painted a picture that fly-tipping in Chorley was prolific. “People have probably got the wrong impression that it’s widespread,” he said.