New Recycling Centre Proposal needs improvement say Greens

11 December 2019

Response to the consultation on a new recycling centre near Norwich from the Green Party councillors on Norwich City Council

Having studied information available online, relating to the county council’s consultation on a new recycling centre, we have two main concerns. The first is that the proposed new site, north of the Broadland Northway, is designed to be accessed by car rather than other forms of transport. The second is that the new recycling centre does not appear to prioritise repairing and reusing items, which is disappointing. We shall elaborate on these two points below, while also addressing the priorities the county council is aiming to meet.

Site Location

We have some concerns regarding the location of the new site as it is at some distance from most residents of the city of Norwich and appears to be only practically accessible to people with access to cars. However, a new recycling centre at Harford Bridge (replacing the current Ketteringham facility) will be of more use to many residents in the south of Norwich. We suspect that a centre at Harford Bridge would be more likely to be used by many Norwich residents than a site north of the Broadland Northway, so adequate provision would be needed at the Harford Bridge site.

We acknowledge that it is important that traffic which does travel to the recycling centre is able to move around it without impediment, in order to avoid unnecessary air pollution and inconvenience to users of the site. The information available in the online consultation did not make entirely clear whether or not this priority would be met by the new plan, although it is likely that there would be an improvement on the current situation at the Swanton Road recycling centre, where there are often queues of traffic. An indication of numbers using the new site was not given in the consultation material and provision for bicycles with trailers, or any other kind of transport apart from cars, was not shown. An illustration showed 26 parking spaces available for cars, but we do not have information which suggests whether or not this would be a realistic or appropriate number.

We would like to see alternative access to the new recycling centre so that it is not necessary to drive there. Bicycle access is important and access routes should be appropriate for bicycles with trailers, as these are likely to be used by cyclists bring items to the recycling centre. A safe route across the Broadland Northway will need to be created. It is the view of Green city councillors that the current plans for the proposed site make it car-dependent and that city residents cannot walk or cycle to it because it is too difficult and unsafe to cross the Broadland Northway. Obliging users of the recycling centre to drive will, of course, also increase carbon emissions and air pollution which is undesirable.

Low level bins would be beneficial to people using the site and we would generally support this improvement if it were made.

Re-use and Repair

As global resources are limited, it is essential that every opportunity is taken to re-use materials, directly or indirectly. Re-use should always be prioritised over recycling as its resource and energy impacts are lower. 

We would like to see a site which prioritises and actively encourages the recovery of resources through repair and re-sale: a centre where items from broken furniture, to bicycles, to clothes, and many other things could be made good and re-sold, supporting local small businesses and providing training or apprenticeships would be much more beneficial to Norfolk than a centre which sends most of the physical resource brought to it to be recycled as raw material.

Investment in a new recycling centre could also be investment in jobs and training for local people who employ skills such as carpentry, upholstery, mechanical maintenance and creative upcycling to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of or recycled. This is in addition to items which can be sold immediately for profit.

We would like to see more repair cafes across the county, where members of the public are able to bring items to mend or to give to others to mend for re-use and possible re-sale. Information about these repair cafes and other ways in which items could be re-used should be provided at the recycling centre as well as through other communication channels.

We would also like to see sharing facilities such as the Reepham Mini-Scrapbox used more throughout the county. The mini-scrapbox aims ‘to educate people about the re-use of clean, safe Commercial and Industrial 'waste' which we see as re-usable resources’. Understanding that one person’s waste is another’s reusable resource is vital to effectively dealing with materials which may be taken to a recycling centre.

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