Tesco cashes in on recycling: councils lose out
The supermarkets have long had recycling points in their car parks, but are now forcing councils to remove the municipal ones so they can install private ones - and even make money from the things we throw away. So what does it mean for us?
On the one hand it means very little. We will still be able to take our old bottles and newspapers to the supermarket, so we can save an extra trip to the tip. It's just the owners of the recycling bins that will change.
The hidden cost
However, there's another sting in the tail with this move. The councils make money from their recycling centres - about £50,000 a year in all. Bristol City Council has been forced to remove recycling points from three Tesco supermarkets, and is not happy about it. Gary Hopkins, council recycling chief, told the Daily Mail: "It's a concern to us and we can expect to lose a significant amount of money each year. We seem to have three types of supermarket chains - the smaller ones like Aldi and Lidl who refuse to have recycling banks in their car parks, others like Sainsbury's and Waitrose who are happy to work with us, and Tesco, who seem to want to make a profit out of it."
It means Tesco's move is going to cost these councils dear at a time when they can ill-afford it. Given that they've had to freeze council tax this can only have one effect - it's going to mean yet more cuts. Some councils are even warning that if these busy and profitable sites go, they can no longer subsidise the less busy rural sites, which will mean they have to close - leaving people having to travel miles to recycle - and undoing any decent corporate citizenship by the immense petrol usage.
Or are we better with Tesco?
There is a flip side to this. Tesco points out that it does donate to local charities, and perhaps more importantly it says some councils were struggling to maintain their bins in the stores - which was getting in the way of people using them properly - so now they can be sure to keep them in a decent condition and encourage more recycling.
Of course, if you don't like the idea of Tesco profiting from your recycling, you can still vote with your feet. Many of these councils still operate recycling collection schemes, so it means simply making the most of your doorstep collections of things like bottles and aluminium, so that your council is the one to profit from your waste, and Tesco can't get its sticky fingers on your recycling.
The only question is whether your council runs a reasonable service - or whether it seems designed to bamboozle and penalise you for errors - but that's another story entirely.
So what do you think? Who would you rather cashes in on your recycling? Let us know in the comments.