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Cash-strapped council to invest millions in recycling centre upgrade

PUBLISHED: 05:30 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:26 09 October 2019

Suffolk County Council's mixed recycling waste is processed at Great Blakenham. PIcture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County Council's mixed recycling waste is processed at Great Blakenham. PIcture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Millions of pounds have been pledged by a Suffolk council to revamp recycling facilities in Great Blakenham, in an effort to save cash on disposing waste long term.

County council cabinet member for waste Paul West said it was about investing to save. Picture: RACHEL EDGECounty council cabinet member for waste Paul West said it was about investing to save. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Suffolk County Council's cabinet agreed to invest £7.5million in the materials recycling facility in Great Blakenham, which according to council bosses was in need of an overhaul having been built more than 20 years ago.

Viridor which runs the plant has already committed £15m to the revamp, which will include more automation of the sorting process and increase the capacity of waste.

Councillor Paul West, Conservative cabinet member for Ipswich, communities and waste, said it would generate savings of at least £6m over the remaining nine years of the council's contract with Viridor to process mixed recycling.

"This gives us much more flexibility in the future," he said. "The sorting will be much more automated and give us much more high quality output, and it's essential for us continuing recycling."

Cllr John Field questioned whether enough was being done to encourage Suffolk homes to recycle in the first place. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCllr John Field questioned whether enough was being done to encourage Suffolk homes to recycle in the first place. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Currently the council is charged £79.61 per tonne of mixed recycling waste it brings to Great Blakenham, but the new investment would reduce that to £58.20 to generate the £6.6m saving over the life of the nine year contract.

Once processed, the recycled products are made into other materials and sold to manufacturers.

Mr West said higher quality recycled material would meet with the demand of the manufacturing industry.

The cash for the investment, which was unanimously approved by the council, is expected to be borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board with an annual borrowing cost of around £900,000.

But the Liberal Democrats at the council have warned that more needs to be done to encourage Suffolk homes to recycle in the first place.

John Field, waste spokesman for the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group said: "I fully understand why the council is investing this money in the material recycling facility, and I'm glad to see the administration embracing the idea of 'invest to save'.

"However, I would question why, having declared a climate emergency, they aren't trying to further extend the types of recycling available to Suffolk residents - why not invest in additional food waste recycling facilities, for example?"

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