New paper recycling methods to be considered

Paper and card ready to be taken to the recycling
The amount of paper recycling being collected from the curbside has fallen in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside. [BBC]

Councils are set to "explore" alternative paper recycling collection models as demand has fallen.

A joint report between Sunderland, Gateshead, and South Tyneside councils has found a continued decline in the amount paper being collected for recycling.

Since 2014, local authorities said paper recycling had fallen from between 15-22% to around 3-6%.

Waste management groups in each area said they were considering different ways to collect paper for recycling, as the current kerbside collection system was "not sustainable".

Sunderland saw the largest percentage decrease in paper tonnage between 2023-24 at 25.5% (533 tonnes), followed by Gateshead at 17.6% (835 tonnes) and South Tyneside at 14.1% (335 tonnes), according to the joint waste management partnership report.

The reduction in paper recycling has been linked to the decline in printed media ranging from newspapers to telephone directories, and junk mail, the report said.

Councils also said many residents did not use their paper recycling caddies.

The report also acknowledged that this years' industrial action in South Tyneside impacted recorded tonnages.

The updated recycling figures are being considered by South Tyne and Wear Waste Management chiefs, with recommendations to senior leadership to follow "in due course".

Director of environmental services at Sunderland City Council Marc Morley told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that keeping "paper separate, probably isn’t the way forward because of the decline in tonnage."

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