ALARMING figures showing worsening recycling rates have prompted campaigners to demand that ‘green’ is placed firmly back on the agenda.
Figures show the amount of rubbish being recycled has fallen in the past five years across the area.
Portsmouth’s recycling stats fell between 2011 and 2015 and the city had the lowest rate in Hampshire and West Sussex.
Southampton, a similar densely-populated city, managed to increase its recycling rates over the same period.
All other councils in The News area have reported drops in recycling rates.
The amount of waste not sent for recycling, reuse or composting has also gone up.
The figures are in stark contrast to the situation a decade ago when councils were reporting record recycling rates and year-on-year increases.
Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, said it was a wake-up call.
‘These are disappointing figures on a personal level for me as I am really into recycling,’ she said.
‘Perhaps green issues and recycling have fallen a little off the agenda these last few years, so these figures are a wake-up call for councils and the public.
‘One initiative that would help a great deal is glass recycling from the doorstep.
‘I’ll be talking to the city council about that possibility and also the wider recycling and education issue on the back of the statistics.’
Ray Cobbett, from Hampshire Friends of the Earth, is worried the situation could get worse with recycling centres like Hayling Island earmarked for closure and reduced hours at many of Hampshire’s recycling centres due to funding cuts.
He said: ‘There’s been a general de-emphasis on green matters.
‘The fact is that the tone of ministerial comments suggests that the environment has slipped down the agenda a bit. It all gets through.’
He suggested it was a number of factors, including less public awareness, indifference to green issues, and more waste being incinerated by councils rather than recycled.
Mr Cobbett, from Emsworth, added: ‘I would like to see a new focus put on recycling.’
Spencer Dawson, senior environmental and recycling officer at Portsmouth City Council, said Southampton had increased its recycling rates after being awarded a government grant to introduce fortnightly kerbside glass collections. He said cuts to local authorities had made it more difficult to invest in new recycling initiatives.
But the council has teamed up with agencies and Southern Co-op to launch schemes, such as glass collection points in blocks of flats and bathroom recycle bags.
He said: ‘It’s not in the limelight as much as it was through government cuts and it slipping down the priority list.
‘It’s where you go from here – especially without any major financial input from central government.’
Councillor Sean Woodward, head of environment at Hampshire County Council and leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘Nearly 84 per cent of the material brought into the Household Waste Recycling Centres is recycled, reused or used for energy recovery and Hampshire has an excellent record of diverting waste from landfill – last year this was nearly 94 per cent.’
He added that ‘everyone needed to play their part’ and reduce the amount of waste produced.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I was disappointed to learn that recycling rates in Gosport have fallen in recent years.
‘Wasting resources costs businesses and households money and causes worrying environmental damage.
‘I am pleased the government is working with businesses to make them more responsible for the waste they produce, but clearly more needs to be done at a grassroots level to encourage people to recycle and use resources efficiently.’