Friday, 25 March 2011

Farewell to Environment Scrutiny

Thursday saw the last meeting of Eastleigh’s environment scrutiny panel.  As part of the Borough’s plan to reduce costs while maintaining front line services, four scrutiny panels are being merged into two, and  environment and transport scrutiny will in future be the responsibility of the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel.

We reviewed the activities and progress of the Environmental Health service, endorsed  the action plan for recycling in Hampshire, and approved a technical and legally required document outlining how future development plan documents will be assessed for sustainability and environmental impact.

Eastleigh has an impressive record on recycling:  the only council in Hampshire to collect food waste and one of only four with a kerbside collection for glass, we currently recycle just under 45% of our collected waste.  And that is down to the willingness of all our residents to sort and clean recyclables and avoid contamination in the green bins.

There is a desire in the community to recycle more:  at the moment a lot of plastics and tetrapaks are not collected.   The reason for this is that historically these categories either cost too much to recycle or the transport and energy impact of recycling them makes the process not sustainable.  

Project Integra (a partnership of all the councils in Hampshire) needs to look at increasing the range of recyclables that are collected as well as helping people to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste that enters the system.  And that means using its influence to lobby the supermarkets and other businesses to cut out unnecessary packaging.

The Co-op stopped shrink-wrapping its cucumbers in response to its customers, and communities have reduced or eliminated plastic carrier bags, so it can be done if people-power is harnessed and co-ordinated.

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