Major award for kerbside scheme

BANBRIDGE District Council is celebrating a victory after winning the award category for ‘Best Sustainable Development Initiative’ at the prestigious Local Government Awards, held at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick recently.

The council was up against Belfast City Council and Craigavon Borough Council in the finalist shortlist, but the winner was Banbridge’s new kerbside commercial recycling service which was introduced 10 months ago to help local businesses and schools recycle waste and save money at the same time.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Director of Environmental Services, David Lindsay, said: “This is a great achievement for the council. Everyone in Technical Services - from office staff to collection crews - can share in this success.

“The council has won a number of awards in recent years for our initiatives in sustainable waste management. But we are particularly proud of this award as it represents the culmination of a lot of hard work to increase our district’s commercial recycling rate and reduce waste collection charges for financially hard pressed businesses and schools.

“Prior to introducing this new service in April 2011, all waste collected from schools and businesses went to landfill. Today we are recycling some 51% of this waste and on top of that, schools and businesses are paying 15% less on average for this service. This award represents a very tangible demonstration of our ongoing commitment to the wider sustainable development agenda.

“Using a uniquely designed next generation refuse collection vehicle, we are able to collect food waste every week along with dry recyclables and non recyclable waste on alternate weeks. The vehicle also contains a special onboard weighing device, enabling us to weigh how much waste is collected from each business and school and charge accordingly. We are the only council in the whole of the UK able to charge commercial customers for the amount and type of waste they produce, making this ‘pay by waste type and weight’ system a lot fairer for all who use it.”

Banbridge District Policing Partnership was also named a finalist in the ‘Best Joint Initiative’ category with their Young Passengers and Drivers awareness raising film, narrowly missing out to Belfast City Council with its delivery of the MTV EMA Music Week.

Now in its fourth year, the Local Government Awards recognise best practice in local government in terms of service excellence, innovative initiatives as well as exceptional commitment from councillors and officers. A total of 47 entries were received across seven categories. BBC presenter Tara Mills hosted the event.