Reading’s recycle rate has risen to more than 50 per cent for the first time ever, following the rollout of the new food waste collection scheme.

The success has led one councillor to question why the scheme took so long to introduce.

Last week, it was revealed the council had increased its recycling rate from 34 per cent to 45 per cent in February, the first month of the food waste scheme being rolled out permanently.

The council has now revealed that in March the recycling rate exceeded 50 per cent for the first time, achieving the current national targets for recycling rates.

In March, 692 tonnes of food waste was collected and recycled, the equivalent weight of 100 elephants and slightly heavier then the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

This is around 2.5kg per household, or the weight of around six footballs.

PICTURED: Food waste

PICTURED: Food waste

Councillor Adele Barnett, lead member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “We are over 50 per cent recycling rate for the first time ever in the borough and that is fantastic.

“We are not going to rest on our laurels; we want to go further.

“But every time you separated your rubbish, every time you used the food waste bin, every time you’ve got all the r3cyclopedia app and checked which bin something should be going into, every time you’ve gone to the bring bank instead of putting something in the grey bin, it all adds up.

“We are also on track to save at least £342,000 per year.

“That’s money that can be re-invested in council services because we are not spending on it on sending waste to a hole in the ground.”

Several councillors added their own praise, including Green councillor Rob White, who also questioned why the scheme was not introduced sooner.

He said: “It’s great this rollout is going really well for most people.

“If I was to rain on the parade a little bit I would complain that it is a shame this wasn’t introduced 10 years ago.

“I think it was 2004 when I was at a scrutiny committee as a member of public and I remember one of the relevant officers telling me that food waste was the main thing we needed to be recycling out of our grey waste bins.”

Meanwhile, Conservative councillor Jane Stanford-Beale revealed that the old grey 240l bins were taken away for free, recycled and replaced with the new smaller 140l bins at no cost to the council.

The main issues raised about the service has been about missed bin collections and the reduction in the size of grey bins.

Cllr Barnett-Ward said council officers had acted on the “very small proportion of problems” and improved processes, praised them for delivering the service in the middle of the pandemic and during winter and

She added: “Our bin crews now empty 7.2 million bins a year and so if one or two bins get missed occasionally it is not great but it’s not really surprising when you are doing a service at that scale.”