Blackpool has been shamed as one of the worst places in the region for recycling.
A Gazette investigation has found the North West is the only region in the country to have seen a decline in recycling rates in recent years.
Blackpool Council is ranked 37th out of 43 authorities in the region with just 33.5 per cent of household waste being recycled. Only Preston and Hyndburn have worse figures in Lancashire.
Yet neighbouring Fylde Council – at 50.5 per cent – is hitting the household rate target of 50 per cent, the only place in the county to do so.
Today council bosses have said improving recycling figures remains a priority, but blamed the effects of budget cuts on declining rates.
Blackpool Council is one of a number of authorities to have introduced charges for green waste collections.
A council spokesman said: “The current national austerity programme has seen over £137m cut from Blackpool Council’s budget since 2010 and, whilst
maintaining and improving recycling is important, the increasing cost of waste disposal means that economic factors are the main drivers in relation to waste management.
“Also, the introduction of paid-for green waste collections has had a negative effect on recycling rates.”
In 2014/15, the recycling rate in the resort stood at 39.9 per cent.
Fylde, the best placed of Lancashire’s councils, ranks eighth in the North West for recycling.
Councils across the country had been tasked with hitting a 50 per cent target rate by 2020 or face huge financial penalties, but these guidelines were part of EU targets and it remains to be seen whether they will remain as they are post-Brexit.
A spokesman for Fylde Council said: “We have kept the green waste collection service for a small annual subscription charge, which has managed to keep the green waste tonnages on par with previous years.
“At the same time our plan is to push the dry recycling collections in 2018 through extensive educational publicity. We are also rolling out the successful
weekly green refuse sack collections to the remainder of properties currently on a weekly black sack collection in Fylde throughout 2018.
“This limits the amount of non-recyclable waste that a residential property can present to 2 green sacks per week and encourages these properties to recycle more material through the council’s fortnightly dry recycling collections.”
In Wyre, the figures stands at 44.9 per cent, placing it 15th in the North West, and sixth best in Lancashire.
The council said it previously been around the 50 per cent target but had seen a recent decline. It too blamed green waste subscriptions for a decline
in kerbside collections.
A council spokesman said: “We have seen a steady decline in the amount of paper and cardboard collected which appears to be a national trend.
“In addition, many producers of food containers, such as glass jars and bottles are actually reducing the weight of the materials so as the targets are weight based the ability to continually rise will be harder.”
The council also said it was not solely focused on improving recycling rates but also wanted to ‘encourage reuse and minimisation’ to cut down the amount of rubbish being thrown out in the first place.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) figures, compiled by recycling and recovery firm Suez, the country’s overall household waste recycling rates improved by 0.7 per cent last year.
Suez chief executive David PalmerJones said leaving the EU could see the UK set its own targets and produce a framework for sustainable recycling progress.
He said: “Britain has an opportunity in Brexit, potentially free from EU edicts and chasing misplaced weightbased recycling targets, to lead the world in resource-efficiency by making sure that producers are responsible for the entire life-cycle of their products and packaging – and are therefore taking a greater interest in what they are made from, how they are made and how they can get them back once the consumer has finished with them.
“For now one of the reasons for the decline in recycling rates is that targets remain weight- based rather than being based on the value of resources being captured.”
Suez believes recycling should be more than just a weight game, so that households can continue to be engaged, whilst ensuring recycling activity and targetsetting is focused on capturing materials with high embedded value, both economic and environmental.
“The time is right for manufacturers to take more responsibility for their products as part of a radical reform of environmental policy.
“We want to see the producers of sustainable packaging and products incentivised by policy, legislation and the tax system, while those manufacturers who continue to consume virgin raw materials when recyclables are available, should be penalised.”
Other high ranking Lancashire authorities include Chorley (47.2 per cent), South Ribble (47.4) and West Lancashire (47.1).
Coun Peter Moss, from Preston City Council, which has the worst recycling rate in Lancashire, said:
“During a time of severe budget cuts, efficiency and cost savings will have a huge bearing on our recycling rates as the schemes we offer, education work and enforcement are all highly affected by these measures.
“There are many initiatives in place to push towards annual increases to our recycling rates.
“We work with residents, community groups, schools, religious institutions and businesses to educate and improve the quality of our recycling on an ongoing basis.
“Many contributing factors determine increases and decreases in recycling rates every year. Whilst we have seen a steady incline most years, last
year we dipped in our recycling rate from 37 per cent to 32 per cent.
“A significant change in service was the subscription charge for garden waste collections."