A council’s plan to tell residents to stop recycling plastic is “regressive and concerning”, the environment minister says.
Swindon Borough Council wants to burn plastic rather than sending it abroad for recycling, claiming some “isn’t properly recycled”.
Environment minister Dr Therese Coffey has written to the council asking it to “reflect carefully on this decision”.
The council said there had been “no decisions” made yet on the plan.
But, the council announced last month it intended to tell residents to stop separating plastics for recycling, and put them in their general waste bin.
It claimed “a lot” of the plastic it collected was not recyclable and rather than sending it abroad it wanted to burn it along with other waste at its solid fuel recovery plant.
But in a letter to the council’s cabinet member for the environment, Ms Coffey wrote that she was “concerned” about the impact the decision would have on “future householder engagement”.
“I find the new plan the council proposes to drop plastic waste for recycling concerning,” she said.
“This is surely a regressive step.”
She said the government was “committed” to increasing the amount of waste recycled and did not want local authorities to withdraw services “even temporarily”.
“While I understand your concerns about the uncertainty on what happens to recycling once exported, this would suggest the need for clearer communications about the end destination of exported plastics rather than stopping certain kerbside collections completely.”
In response, Councillor Maureen Penny said “no decisions” had been made with regard to how the council deals with its plastic waste.
“Our wider strategy on how we deal with all our waste will be considered at next month’s cabinet meeting,” she said.