Leaked emails prove Veolia diverting recycling waste to incineration in Sheffield

People in Sheffield are being misled as to where their recycling is going, says GMB, which says it has been shown an email revealing Veolia bosses are diverting recycling to their incinerator. At the same time, Sheffield’s recycling rate has plummeted.

The city’s waste management contractor appears to have made the decision in 2011 to divert recyclable waste from the household waste recycle centres to its own incinerator.

Both Veolia’s contract with Sheffield City Council and Environment Agency regulations demand the company performs as much recycling as can be reasonably achieved.

The incinerator has previously struggled to get fuel to fulfil the company’s commitment to provide district heating for the city.

GMB members working at Veolia’s recycling plant receive a bonus payment if they meet their recycling targets – something they have struggled to do in recent years due to a shortage of recyclable waste.

It now looks as if this is nothing to do with a lack of residents’ recycling, says GMB – but a deliberate policy from Veolia.

Despite various information and data requests, GMB has not received adequate waste flow information from Sheffield City Council or Veolia.

Following the leaked email, GMB has written an open letter to Veolia.

Lee Parkinson, GMB Organiser, said:

“We accept we have to burn waste in the incinerator, indeed it’s our own members who work on that operation and it’s a good model for the city.

“But these increasing diversions are coming from the household recycle sites and that is always going [to] have a negative impact on recycling in Sheffield.”

Peter Davies, Senior Organiser, added:

“We have long said this contract is in a mess and this latest leak makes our members task of increasing those recycle rates look almost impossible.

“The people of Sheffield need to know when they bring their waste it is recycled in the main – not deliberately diverted and burned to boost Veolia’s profits.

“Veolia appear to be burning things that could be recycled – adding to pollution and avoiding paying our members any bonus at the same time.

“We call on Sheffield City Council to be transparent about the recycling requirements in the contract with Veolia.

“This isn’t just the waste that’s going up in smoke, it’s our members’ pay with it and we will now challenge that.

“The good people of Sheffield and our own members who carry out their recycling have no real control over recycling in this city and that is a scandal.

“Veolia and the Council need to sort this obvious conflict of interest out and sort it now.”

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