New chairman calls on residents to recycle as much as possible

  |  Published: Sep 9th 2015
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New waste partnership chairman Mike Smith is calling on Buckinghamshire’s residents to help save taxpayers’ cash and protect their environment by recycling as much as they possibly can.

Cllr Smith, a Chiltern District Councillor representing Holmer Green, and Cabinet member for Environment, was appointed Chairman of the Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire in May. 

He said:  “We really do need the public’s help to improve our recycling rates and to get the message across that when individuals make small changes to their daily routine, collectively they can make a big difference to our environment.

“The problem is that many people are excellent while others are not so bothered, and the aim is to get everyone up to the same level. Some households throw everything into the bin without thinking about it while others are more scrupulous and it really makes a huge difference.”

He added: “I am particularly keen in increasing the recycling rate. That is my big thing. We are in a relatively affluent area where people are well educated and are keen on recycling. We don’t have to give some people an incentive here to recycle – we have to keep up with their desire to recycle.”

Cllr Smith identified plastic bags and expanded polystyrene as materials he would like to see as future recyclables. “We get loads and loads of packaging and that is really tough to deal with. It is takes up a big volume and is a nightmare to get rid of,” he said.

“We need to reduce the residual waste as far as possible because it costs so much to get rid of, and ultimately that cost falls on the taxpayer. We are constantly looking for ways to do more.”

He urged residents to re-use as many products as possible – pointing out there are charity re-use shops at High Heavens and Aston Clinton Household Waste Recycling Centres. He labelled them ‘fantastic’, adding he would like to see this initiative expanded.

He also praised the partnership’s stance on fly-tipping. “We have adopted a zero tolerance approach that is reducing the level of fly-tipping and we will keep on pushing that as hard as we can.  People should not expect to get away with it in Bucks,” he said.

Last year, the county’s recycling rate broke through the 50 per cent mark for the first time. The rate currently stands at 54 per cent, and Cllr Smith is adamant that the target of 60 per cent by the year 2020 is easily achievable.

The 65-year-old father-of-two took over as waste partnership chairman from Lesley Clarke. The partnership comprises the five local authorities in the county - Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks district councils, who are responsible for waste collection, and Buckinghamshire County Council which is responsible for waste disposal. The chairman of the group normally has a one-year tenure.

Cllr Smith, a Conservative, has served on CDC since 2007. He previously served on Chesham Bois parish council and currently sits on Ashley Green parish council.

He had a distinguished career in banking, arranging finance for major projects around the world such as power stations, chemical plants and oil refineries. He brought his expertise of partnership working to public life when he led the merger of waste collection for Chiltern and Wycombe districts in 2013.

Meanwhile, he has a history of helping to come up with innovative solutions to help preserve the environment.

“In the 1980s, I used to arrange finance for alternative energy projects such as wind farms. I once organised finance for a power station running on chicken litter in Norfolk,” he said.

As for Buckinghamshire, his ambition is clear:  “We can save money by not sending waste into landfill or into an incinerator. We can leave resources, such as iron ore and oil, in the ground for future generations, while we re- use the materials we have already extracted.”

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