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Oxfordshire recycling rates hit all time high

July 26, 2007 at 3:18 am

A recent poll has revealed that Oxfordshire has taken the lead in the UK when it comes to recycling. Residents of the city of Oxford now recycle over 40% of all household waste. Last November, a new recycling scheme was introduced to deal with the county’s growing waste problem and local authorities have impressively succeeded in raising recycling rates to their current level within the space of just seven months. It is hoped that the current initiative will further bolster recycling efforts across the United Kingdom.

A few years ago Oxfordshire had a truly abysmal record when it came to recycling. The sector lacked investment: collection points were few in number, sorting facilities were poor and recycling plants were highly inefficient. Today, however, few counties surpass Oxfordshire in terms of recycling and rates here have exceeded all expectations. According to Oxford City Councillor Jean Fooks, current figures, whilst only reflecting recycling rates for the month of June, are indicative of a general trend.

According to Councillor Fooks, “In recent months we have witnessed a steady increase in recycling since the beginning of the year and to achieve 40 per cent so soon is great news. (This) demonstrates that the vast majority of Oxford residents have made good use of the new recycling services we have put in place.” Oxford City Council has asserted that over 11,000 tonnes of waste, otherwise destined for county landfills, have been recycled under the new initiative. In addition, “Council field officers and enforcement teams are out day by day…helping people to play as big a part in the scheme as they can.”

However, doubts have surfaced with regard to the viability of this program. Most skeptics of the initiative see the program as having little chance of success, pointing to Blackburn, where a similar scheme was eventually discarded due to poor implementation. At the moment, recyclable waste is collected from residents’ homes on a fortnightly basis. However, many residents believe that they would be able to recycle far larger quantities of waste if local councils reverted to a system of weekly collections.

In addition, there are fears that the aforementioned recycling figures as produced by the Oxford City Council have been exaggerated. Indeed, proponents of this view suggest that members of the public are unlikely to obtain accurate recycling figures until after the elections in May 2008. According to one activist, Eric Murray, it is likely that “There are no actual figures, only estimates. I do think that as we are suffering under this abhorrent scheme the residents should at least be able to rely on factual figures and not probable estimates.” Mr. Murray’s accusations have been challenged by members of the Oxford City Council who assert that “the recycling rate was calculated according to a formula specified by DEFRA and the Audit Commission.”

Further information about this initiative may be found on the website of the Oxfordshire County Council.

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