Cllr Steve Norman
Cllr Steve Norman

A review into the roll-out of new recycling bags across Lichfield and Burntwood must be open and transparent, a Labour councillor has said.

The new joint waste collection service sees households separate out card and paper from the rest of their recycling.

But the scheme has been criticised after it emerged that a number of the bags issued to residents were a third smaller than they should have been.

Cllr Liz Little, cabinet member for the joint waste service, said a review would look at the roll-out and operation of the new collection system.

But Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, said people needed answers sooner rather than later.

“The announcement by the new cabinet member responsible for recycling and waste, Cllr Liz Little, that she is going to carry out a review of the new recycling scheme doesn’t address the issues residents have had. 

“The big issue is the size of the bags that appear to be anywhere from 54 litres in size upwards. I don’t know anyone who has got an 80 litre one – the size Lichfield District Council specified – for us and four other councils including Tamworth who share the waste contract with us.”

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Little replaced Cllr Ashley Yeates as the cabinet responsible after the issues with the bags first emerged.

She said the review would help understand where improvements could be made.

“We know that there have been some teething problems with the roll out of the service, but we also know that the same system has been successfully adopted in other councils across the UK.

“I want to understand why we experienced problems and what, if anything, we should, or can, do to make improvements.

“The rollout of the new service completed last Friday, and we can now access collection data to give us performance information to inform the review.”

Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council

But Cllr Norman said communications over the issues with the recycling system had still not been good enough.

“Cllr Little refers to ‘teething problems’ but doesn’t mention the lack of news releases from the council to help inform residents of what was happening. 

“Before yesterday’s announcement, the only one on the council’s website is dated 29th April – and denied by the council anyway!

“She needs to report to either the Task Group that looked at the communication plan that was being proposed for the new scheme of the full scrutiny committee on the 14th of July – or both. 

“I don’t think councillors or residents will be content until there is open and transparent scrutiny of what went wrong.”

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

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16 Comments

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  1. “We know that there have been some teething problems with the roll out of the service, but we also know that the same system has been successfully adopted in other councils across the UK.

    OK so why did Lichfield DC simply not copy the exact method used there ? Why did they not procure the same spec bags ?
    Why reinvent the wheel or bag in this case ? I called the recycling people yesterday and the lady I spoke to had no idea a review was taking place!!!
    Typical poor management

  2. The GPs will be inundated with back problems.
    Lugging a 84 litre bag around , please just give us a purple bin

  3. The blue bags are too heavy for me to lift once full. I have arthritis and osteoporosis.

  4. I stuffed my bag with card and paper, ran out of room in the bag and had to put the residual in the blue bin.

    My blue bin was left this morning with a yellow tag on, and no comments ticked so I,ve now got the festering thing for 2 weeks.
    Not an auspicious start to the new scheme??

  5. The elderly need purple bin on wheels NOT a blue bag they cannot lift. The bags should have been sent back to the manufacturer as not to spec and unfit for purpose!

  6. my bags was full after 4 days in rugeley,i have E-mailed council for extra bag or bin but no replies, as i have mobity issues and can not get to tips,i am having my own jublee beacon later.

  7. The implementation was botched. The least the council can do is to be honest about the mistakes in an open way so they will learn from what happened.

  8. I have rung up twice some one is supposed to come to see me not happened. I have a frame have to drag the bag and me threw the house to the front door then down a ramp.it s a farce.not thought out properly

  9. This is me being open and transparent: I will not use these bags and will incinerate all cardboard/paper. I used to recycle 100% when the blue bin was used for cardboard but not now. Just give us the purple bin as these bags are, quite frankly, rubbish!

  10. I totally agree with all comments my bin was left 31st May not sure why I did notice clean tins was this why my bin was left no reason at all just a yellow tag is the council expecting us to wash these what about people on a water meter people cannot afford to eat or warm there homes never mind water bills going up I think councils need to look at the bigger picture bring back a wheelie bin for the household

  11. Ms Little please advise on behalf of LDC & Tamwoth as you work in partnership on recycling policy, just 3 councils using this scheme” successfully”. I can name you 2 big ones who have tried in 2019 & rejected the scheme – Kent & Leeds – have both gone back to original scheme but then they had elections to consider in order to save themselves!! You do not have long as black bins are full of some previously recyclable materials right now.

  12. It will all depend on how they measure success/ failure.

    85% of the bags collected are more than 75% full. Can be declared a success.

    It can hide the fact that 30% of households no longer use the blue bag. The cost of the grey bins disposal has increased, by 200%.

    If they want to show it is a success. The figures will prove it a success.

  13. The volume of cardboard and paper waste exceeds the amount of plastic and other waste. Elderly and disabled will be unable to lift these bags when full and the other concern is storage of them as, if the paper and cardboard become wet, the contents of bag will have to be disposed in black bin. Not thought through at all! As it is there has been a decrease in the items that can be recycled e.g. Tetra cartons meaning black bins will be poverflowing.

  14. I raised an FOI for the procurement documentation and exactly 20 working days later I received this.

    The blue bag tender, including the specification and evaluation criteria are in the public domain (link to the contracts register).
    You have also requested the anonymised scoring matrix and comparison to baseline. This contains commercially sensitive information (i.e., pricing strategies of 4 commercial entities). This is therefore withheld under section 43 FOIA 2000, Commercial interests. Specifically, subsection 2, which states “Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).” Given the nature of the information contained in the scoring matrix, it is likely to be considered sensitive information as it contains commercially

    I can’t find the docs are suggested and I disagree with the withheld as good procurement uses a ranking system to maintain confidentially…. oh wait!

  15. The whole affair just feels pig-headed at this stage and you would have thought by now there would have been some form of initial fact finding review already along with a proper interim statement on the matter considering we’re now just over a month later.

    I can’t imagine the review will do anything more than virtue signalling with selective fact picking to make the scheme look successful (if I was to speculate I’d imagine we’re going to have the statistics on the cost saving layered on thick and with mixed or negative feedback being labelled as purely teething issue and the solution being to just ‘educate households’ as everything can be explained away with communication inefficiencies).

    LDDC need to do what they always should have done when they decided to opt for a move to this style of recycling, allow households a channel to opt for either a purple bin or a bag to put the control of decision making in the hands of those who are best placed to know what their own recycling needs are. The extra cost of achieving this should be clawed back through the supplier of the bags for failure to deliver on a contact (so long as they actually have) and in the event that LDDC have botched the contract and actually got exactly what they ordered then they need to stop dancing around the subject and own up to it, only then can the lessons be learnt around can be done next time and the cost of remedying put in perspective considering the most likely outcome if this were to occur is the price gets stapled onto a council tax rise next year.

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