A dispute between Amey and Gloucester City Council has continued over who is responsible for contaminating recyclables, with the council blaming Amey and Amey saying members of the public are at fault.
LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World reported how in June the council withheld a £300,000 paytment to the contractor, which it accused of having lost 2,000 tonnes of materials which could have been sold for nearly £250,000.
A report to councillors at that time noted that the council and Amey had agreed on a ’worst case scenario’ of income of £699,000 for the last financial year but only £446,000 was raised, pushing Gloucester’s environment operation into deficit.
Cabinet member for environment Richard Cook (Con) said: “We discovered that Amey has collected stuff for recycling but about 700 tonnes has been sent to landfill and 300 tonnes sent on to others but rejected as contaminated, so it’s about 1,000 tonnes in all.
“I do not accept that it has been contaminated by the public. We have a kerbside system with 55-litre boxes, one for plastics and cans and the other for paper and glass. Where people do not have two boxes, or don’t need that many, Amey is supposed to collect the waste and sort it into different lorry pods. [But] that is not happening – they are just putting it into any old pod.”
Cllr Cook said Gloucester was still withholding the payment, and “we have held several meetings and made no progress because they blame residents for the contamination”.
A motion to the full council last week from Liberal Democrat opposition group leader Jeremy Hilton called on Cook to “increase the frequency of meetings he holds with Amey from current quarterly meetings to monthly meetings until the matter of poor performance by Amey is resolved”.
Cllr Hilton told MRW this demand was removed from the motion by the ruling Conservatives, who said Cook had met Amey three times in as many weeks.
Amey’s account director Steve Wightman said: “Unfortunately, there seems to be ongoing misunderstanding about the recycling process.
“Any waste put in a recycling box that is contaminated cannot be recycled… While our collection teams have occasionally commingled some recycling in the past, this recycling has always been subsequently sorted at a reprocessing plant. This has only taken place at periods of high demand (for instance, Christmas) and with the consent of the council.”
Mr Wightman said it was “unfortunate” that Gloucester had not introduced a second recycling box across the city.
“This was what had been agreed in 2016 and we believe would have resulted in higher recycling rates,” he said.
“As we previously said, we have seen absolutely no evidence that recyclable material has ever been sent to landfill. We are happy to have further discussions with the council to address any other misunderstandings.”