The north London borough of Barnet has targeted a significant increase in the capture of recycling from residents living in flats, under a draft strategy agreed by Councillors at a meeting last night (11 January).

The strategy, which could also herald the introduction of food waste collections for flatted properties, will now be put out to consultation with residents later this month with a view to being adopted by the local authority from mid-2016 – running through to 2025.

Despite a target of 50% recycling by 2020, progress in Barnet has since been slow with an overall rate of 37.95% recorded for 2014/15 – falling short of its aspirational 41% target for the year.

Collection

For individual households the council introduced a new collection system in 2013 which sees commingled dry recycling including paper, card, plastic bottles and metal cans and tins collected weekly either via a blue bin or sack, weekly residual waste alongside weekly collections of separate food and for some properties garden waste.

Blocks of flats with six properties or more are provided communal blue bins for mixed recycling as well communal bins for residual waste, both of which are collected weekly.

Flatted properties have been identified as a particular problem area by the local authority, which claims that despite making up around 30% of all households in the borough (44,000) – recycling from flats contributes around 1% of Barnet’s overall recycling rate, whereas houses contribute 27%, the council claims.

Strategy

Within the strategy, Barnet notes: “Our top priority is to ensure that each household in the borough has easy access to the mixed recycling service. We are working closely with managing agents to introduce mixed recycling containers for all flats (where the service is feasible) and expect this to be complete by the end of 2016. We will ensure residents that are new to the scheme, or new to the borough, understand how the mixed recycling service works, and we will be working with the people who live in, manage, own and maintain the flats to spread the message.”

Among the measures being explored by the council is a reduction in the number of residual waste containers provided to flats and an increase in mixed recycling containers. The council will also be working closely with residents in flats to ensure that they are aware which materials are included in its kerbside collection service, in a bid to reduce contamination.

And, in the longer term, the council will also explore the feasibility of introducing food waste collections to some flats – with a trial food waste collection service for around 12 blocks of flats to be introduced in 2016.

Barnet is to consider measures for the 5,000 flats in the borough which sit above shops

Flats above shops

The estimated 5,000 flats above shops within the borough are also singled out for action within the strategy.

The strategy notes: “Each parade above shops has different requirements for recycling and residual waste services so we will carefully assess the need of each area when introducing improvements. Learning from authorities such as City of London, Camden and Lambeth we will consider introducing a requirement for same street residents in flats above shops and businesses on the same street to set out materials for collection within certain time slots…”

Commenting on the strategy, councillor Dean Cohen, chairman of Barnet council’s Environment Committee, said: “This new draft strategy gives us a road-map to how we will manage our waste and recycling service in the foreseeable future.

“Barnet has made incredible progress with recycling since we introduced the new service in 2013, but we can do so much more. For example, we know that a considerable amount of waste residents put in their black bins can be recycled or re-used and we can do a lot more to educate and encourage residents on this matter.”