Northern Ireland

Fermanagh and Omagh council launches investigation into workers appearing to mix recycled materials and food waste

Mark Ovens UUP
UUP councillor Mark Ovens

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has confirmed an investigation was “immediately commenced” after CCTV footage emerged of operatives apparently mixing food waste with recycled materials, potentially causing contamination.

The footage captured in the Newtownbutler area showed brown kitchen caddies – containing food waste left out by householders for collection – being opened and emptied into blue bins containing recyclable items such as plastics, paper and glass.

The blue bins were then emptied as normal into the collection lorry.

It is understood this occurred on at least three occasions, and several residents submitted complaints.

The matter was briefly raised at a council meeting during a discussion around issues with bin collections and waste management.

Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Ovens noted there seemed to be very significant disruption to certain bins on a number of routes.

“This seems to predominantly be the brown caddy, and sometimes blue bins are being impacted,” he said.

“If you have a caddy filled and leave it out in good faith over a fortnight, expecting the council to collect it, and you see a notification saying ‘Don’t worry – it’ll be collected in another fortnight’, that’s causing huge problems.

“Quite often, I suspect more and more households will be putting that food waste directly into another bin, and that has a huge financial impact on the council, in terms of landfill, and costs associated with that.”

While expressing concern that householders, through no choice of their own, are placing food waste in the incorrect bins due to delays and absent collections, the CCTV footage recently showed council operatives appearing to be do the same thing.

Following the meeting, the council was asked when the investigation into the matter commenced.

In response, a spokesperson replied: “Immediately on notification of the incident, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council commenced an investigation in line with its policies and procedures.

“The investigation is ongoing at present.

“The council remains committed to delivering a high-quality refuse collection service to residents and encourages and thanks them for their continued support to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.”

At present, there is no indication as to when the investigation is due to conclude or report back to the council.