Municipal tips in Kirklees have not accepted cardboard for recycling for months.
Now, in Recycling Week, a leading local Tory has challenged the Labour-led authority to take its green obligations seriously.
Clr John Taylor, the deputy leader of the Conservative group on Kirklees Council, has been storing his and neighbours’ cardboard in his garage rather than see it thrown into a general waste skip at his local tip.
He said a cardboard-only skip at the Upper Cumberworth household waste and recycling centre had been removed.
And despite raising the issue several times he says he is still waiting for a detailed explanation on the change of policy.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the borough’s tips are handling limited recycling due to social distancing guidelines, which means residents are kept to an allocated zones when visiting.
However whilst turnaround times are quicker, with queues reduced, it means the council is recycling less at its tips.
Residents are being encouraged to put cardboard in their green bins for fortnightly collection.
Clr Naheed Mather, the council’s Cabinet member for Greener Kirklees, said it was still working under a reduced service from French-owned waste contractor SUEZ to enable social distancing on its sites.
She added: “We are working to expand the service back to normal, or as close to as we can, and a timeline was set for October.
“However, with recent Government announcements and the second wave on its way, this may need to be reviewed.”
Clr Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) called her response “pathetic”.
He said: “When the tips first reopened I was surprised that cardboard was not prioritised for recycling at the tips as the lockdown has seen a further shift to online shopping and hence an increase in the numbers of cardboard boxes being delivered.
“Cardboard is easily recycled and there is a ready market for recycled cardboard, so I had assumed it would be a priority.
“The tip operators told me to put my cardboard in the general waste, which I refuse to do.
“I thought I would wait a while whilst they got the operations fully up and running.
“As nothing seemed to be changing I asked Clr Mather why we could not recycle cardboard and the response was pathetic.
“She clearly has no real interest in recycling and gave no commitment.
“It is no surprise that our recycling rates are so low when the Cabinet member responsible for our recycling seems so disinterested in trying to drive up our recycling.
“Maybe the Leader might like to do a little recycling of his Cabinet and get someone in charge who’ll find a way for me and everyone else who cares about reducing waste to be able to start taking our cardboard to be recycled and not sent to landfill or to be burnt.”
Council tips in Kirklees were shut on March 24 as part of the Covid-19 lockdown when users became aggressive and did not follow 2m social distancing rules.
There followed a marked increase in fly-tipping on some estates and in outlying areas.
After initially resisting advice from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which said authorities such as Kirklees could keep their household waste and recycling centres open to allow residents to dispose of bulky waste as long as social distancing guidelines are observed, the council re-opened tips on May 11.
However services have been restricted and social distancing measures means anyone disposing of waste has to do so alone – and to carry it to on-site skips on their own.