NO changes will be made to plastic recycling in West Berkshire for another two years, despite thousands of people calling for improvements.

The petition, started by Sukey Russell-Hayward, called for a wider range of plastics to be collected for recycling at the kerbside. 

But despite the 2,356 calling for change, West Berkshire Council voted on January 9 to do nothing until 2022 or 2023. 

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Councillor Steve Masters (Green, Speen), who presented the petition to the full council, said: “The local community believe the council could be doing a lot more.”

Ms Russell-Hayward previously collected plastic waste — like pots, tubs and trays which aren’t currently recyclable at the kerbside in West Berkshire — at her home to take to collection points at supermarkets. 

Cllr Masters said: “Sukey is a great public servant. But the service became unsustainable. The council should be doing the very best it’s able to do.” 

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However, no change will be made for at least two years, as councillors voted to wait until new government recycling policies become clearer. 

The government is currently consulting on how to make producers pay for their own plastic packaging, encouraging manufacturers to use packaging which is easier to recycle, and improving the market for recycled plastics. 

Cllr Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham), lead for environment, said: “I welcome the spirit of this petition.”

But he proposed waiting until “the council has certainty regarding funding from government and having a market for these materials”. Cllr Ardagh-Walter added: “Just because some other councils do collect plastic tubs and trays, doesn’t mean they actually get recycled.”

Cllr Carolyne Culver (Green, Ridgeway) agreed that producers should be responsible for paying. She said currently “taxpayers are subsidising taking away their waste”. 

But she called for action now, rather than waiting until 2022. She said: “We need to investigate this further. Move to a food caddy system as quickly as possible, and revoke the green bin charge.”

Cllr Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common) said: “We do have a lot to do. Let’s not pat ourselves on the back. More than 2,000 people said they want to do something — 2.5 per cent of households in West Berkshire.”

But Conservative councillors defended West Berkshire’s recycling performance. Cllr Graham Bridgman (Con, Burghfield & Mortimer) compared statistics between the district and Reading. 

West Berkshire recycles 49.5 per cent of its waste, while Reading recycles 31.5 per cent; West Berkshire sends 16.1 per cent to landfill, while Reading sends 21.4 per cent. Cllr Bridgman said: “We are better than Reading.” 

The Waste and Resources Action Programme reported on the plastics market situation in 2019, looking at the expanding market for recycled plastic. 

The report stated: “In the past, the argument has always been that the UK does not have growing demand for recovered materials, or that the end consumer didn’t value recovered plastic highly enough. 

“That argument is no longer valid.” 

In a report to the full council, waste manager Kofi Adu-Gyamfi said instead of changing plastic recycling, the council could look now at bringing in separate food waste bins. He said: “The council will actively explore options for the separate collection of food waste at the kerbside. 

“This will achieve considerably more environmental benefits and value for money.”