High Street is green at last

South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth are celebrating after major victory in a three year campaign for recycling in the town centre. On Thursday night Cllr David Hopkins announced at the Partnership Committee that the existing litter bins in the town centre will be replaced with bins that have a orange recycling section as well as a litter for landfill section.

For many years Annie Taylor of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth had been so concerned that the plastic bottles and aluminum cans put in the litter bins in the town centre go straight to landfill and most people do not realise this that she has led a major campaign to improve recycling in the town centre.

In 2009 Ms Taylor managed to obtain a grant of £1000 from the Wixamtree Tree trust to purchase a recycling centre in Parsons Close and worked with the Town Council to get it installed in Parson Close in January 2010. She then persuaded Central Bedfordshire Council to collect fortnightly.

She also ran a competition with local schools for a poster to promote it. Since then, entirely for free, she has been regularly checking the recycling bin to prevent contamination so that the collections can continue, picking up discarded plastic bottles in Parsons Close to go into the recycling centre, and handing out leaflets about the facility.

However, by last summer South Beds Friends of the Earth felt that it was time for the Town Council to do more and held a demonstration outside the town council offices that coincided with the town twinning visit.

The Leighton Buzzard Observer also played its part by running the story and liaised between the town council and South Friends of the Earth for a solution.

As a result Friends of the Earth wrote to the partnership committee with their proposal and the committee has responded with the implantation of new bins in Leighton, Dunstable and Biggleswade.

The next stage is for South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth to work with the council to promote the recycling bins and encourage people to pick up litter around the town.

Ms Taylor said: “It is just such a huge waste of a valuable resource if plastic bottles and aluminum cans go to landfill. Recycling just one single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W light bulb for up to six hours. Recycling an aluminum can save 90% to 95% of the energy required to manufacture aluminum from new. Bedford has had recycling bins in their town centre since 2009 and Milton Keynes since 2007. It is fantastic that the Partnership Committee of the town council and Central Bedfordshire Council are doing this! It is a great step forward in cutting costs of waste collection for the council and helping save carbon.We are very grateful to all the hard work of Cllr Hopkins.”