A LACK of knowledge of West Oxfordshire and winter storms disrupted recycling collections across the district this winter, a report has concluded.

District councillors have been told the total number of missed recycling collections was nearly three times higher than West Oxfordshire District Council had hoped ­– but that operations should be more reliable now.

General rubbish collections of household waste were also higher than had been hoped for, but only marginally.

The district council hired its current contractor for kerbside waste and recycling collection Ubico last autumn after ceasing its previous agreement with Kier MG.

The new company instituted a 'comingled' fortnightly collection of waste and recycling with a separate black box given to residents for glass.

The council report states: “As a result of round changes and a loss of local knowledge in some locations, there was an increase in missed collections at the start of the new contract.

“Solutions were put in place to improve performance and missed collections had reduced significantly by December.

“Repeated heavy collections being suspended has also contributed to an increase in misses.”

The council said the number of collections missed per 100,000 collections of recyclable waste was 141.10 – nearly three times its target of 55.

Heavy snow in December meant dry recycling, food, refuse and garden waste collections were all missed.

Diana Shelton, the council’s head of leisure and communities, said: “Despite this, overall, we have seen further improvements since January with the weekly number of misses broadly comparable with the number of missed bins being reported prior to the commencement of the new contract.”

The council also narrowly missed its target of sending household waste for composting or treatment by anaerobic digestion.

It had wanted to send 33 per cent of the rubbish but achieved 31.19 per cent.

Again, the harsh winter weather was to blame for failing to meet that target, the council said.

Last month, the county council’s performance scrutiny committee looked at reasons for falling recycling rates.

Liz Leffman, who represents Charlbury and Wychwood, led a ‘deep dive’ investigation into those problems and how they could be solved.

Mrs Leffman said in an initial report that residents were ‘confused’ about what could be recycled and needed more information to be sure.

The county council conceded it was failing to meet its 59 per cent of household waste to be recycled by 2020.

A controversial ‘pay as your throw’ system which could charge families for household waste was considered in the report but has now been ditched.

Nationally, the Government has set a target of recycling 50 per cent of all waste by 2020.

By 2015, all councils had to provide separate collections for paper, plastic, metal and glass.

Here in Oxfordshire, the county council hopes to recycle 60 per cent of all waste from household waste recycling centres.

Mrs Leffman’s report noted: “It is estimated that if all of this recycling was put in the correct bin, the county council could save around £3m annually and the countywide recycling rate could rise to around 80 per cent (currently 58 per cent).”