Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

05.04.19

Milton Keynes Council in £1.75m settlement with contractor after recycling waste contamination

Milton Keynes Council has agreed a £1.75m legal settlement with its waste management contractor following a historic row over the contamination of its recycling waste.

This follows claims that up to 25% of the council’s recycling sacks have been contaminated with dirty nappies, pet waste and food from 2013 to 2019, meaning that the contractor could not sell the material as per its contract.

It was reported that the blunder could cost the authority £3m, but Milton Keynes Council said this has now been negotiated down after agreeing a £1.75m settlement with Viridor.

The authority has a contract with Viridor for it to process its recycling waste at the Materials Recovery Facility, and the contractor is entitled under this contract to sell material that can be used.

But in a statement, the council said around one in four sacks in MK are “contaminated”, which is higher than the tolerance for contamination built into the recycling contract.

This means the materials can’t be recovered and therefore sold by Viridor, which “undermines recycling efforts” as well as now costing the council a large chunk of funding.

The council warned that if contamination levels continue it will cost MK “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in yearly penalty fees, and asked residents to “take more care about what they put in recycling sacks to avoid unnecessary future costs.”

The chair of Milton Keynes Council’s scrutiny management committee, Ric Brackenbury, said the authority was “asleep for too long” on the rising contamination levels in recycling.

“There’s a big job to do to make sure we keep recycling but only put the right items in our recycling sacks.”

The council, which has a contract with Viridor until 2023, said residents can find out what can and can’t be recycled via its website.

Image credit - VM

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