The overarching aims and principles for how Birmingham should manage its waste over the next 20 years have been published in a new document, out to public consultation from today (June 29).
A Waste Strategy for Birmingham sets out the city council’s vision and ambition for new ways of managing resources to deliver against an ambition for a cleaner, greener and sustainable city.
By 2031 Birmingham’s population is set to grow by 150,000 requiring more than 40,000 additional homes over the same period. By the end of the same timescale, the council has an aim to recycle 70 per cent of all household and municipal waste annually (with none sent to landfill) – which would place it amongst the best local authorities nationally.
Currently, less than 30 per cent of Birmingham’s waste is recycled, about 7.5 per cent is landfilled and research shows that 60 per cent of everything that is currently thrown out every week in household rubbish (of which half is food waste) has the potential to be recycled or composted.
The strategy is underpinned by the ‘waste hierarchy’ in which reducing the amount of waste generated is the first aim, followed by re-use of unwanted items and then recycling and finally recovery (eg: creating energy from waste).
Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, said: “There is a huge challenge facing the city and a large proportion of that waste is food and much more could be done to recycle more of what is being left in the household rubbish wheelie bin.
“But despite this challenge, we also have a massive opportunity in front of us. Contrary to public perception, waste is actually a resource that, if managed effectively, has not just an environmental value. It has economic and social worth too.
“So, with our current waste disposal contract coming to an end in January 2019, the time has arrived for Birmingham to take a new approach, one of rights and responsibilities in which the council has to deliver good core services but everyone from businesses, to other public sector organisations to individual citizens all have a part to play in partnership with us.
“These are our resources and our challenges. What we need to do is identify how we sweat the maximum value from what is ironically called waste.”
Cllr Trickett also said the new Waste Strategy would also complement an ongoing service improvement plan designed to address the reliability and quality of day-to-day waste collection services for citizens.
She added: “Through the emerging strategy document, we propose to achieve our aims by dealing with the causes and effects of waste in our city, firstly by reducing the amount of waste produced, reusing and recycling more frequently and finally recovering energy from the waste that is left over.
“It is crucial of course that managing waste as a resource is not done at the expense of improving Birmingham’s economic prosperity. We believe that through realising the value of waste that already exists within our economy we will enhance prosperity in our city, by investing in and stimulating the growth of new technologies and the local waste management sector.
“By working closely with a range of partner organisations we now also understand that the way we manage waste and its collection has to become decentralised and flexible in approach because one size doesn’t fit all.
“This is exactly why know the ambition must be owned by Birmingham as a whole and we cannot achieve it without input from residents and businesses and we must work with our universities to bring innovative solutions to the fore, and with our schools and communities to make the necessary change happen.
“This period of public consultation is a chance for people to have their say, and I would urge anyone with an interest in the environmental wellbeing of Birmingham to have their say through this consultation process. It is only by working in partnership that we can do this.”
To have a say on the Waste Strategy, please visit: https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/from-waste-to-resource/consult_view
The deadline for responses is July 31.