RECYCLING rates in Southend have dropped by three per cent in the last year, a report has revealed.

Despite the provision of pink and white sacks along with blue boxes for cardboard being supplied to residents, less than half the waste collected is actually recycled and reused.

Veolia took over the Southend waste contract from Cory in October 2015. Cory lost the contract after 25 years under a new deal believed to be worth up to £150 million.

Fed-up resident Jess Robins, 45, of North Road, Southend, said: “The reason is there are far too many sacks and boxes. The council needs to make it easier for residents to recycle, not harder.”

Tony Cox, councillor responsible for waste, transport and regulatory services, said: “Like many authorities around the country, we have experienced falling recycling rates. In the financial year 2016-2017, Southend achieved a rate of 46.6 per cent - down from 49.1 per cent. Our focus now is on how we go about increasing the amount of waste recycled so that we can meet our targets. “This is a significant challenge but one we are determined to rise to. Discussions are continuing with Veolia to improve recycling performance and this will include them employing three new recycling officers to better engage the community. A new reuse shop is also now operational at the household waste and recycling centre, which diverts waste away from disposal.”

A six month performance report to council committees revealed the council has not set itself a target for recycling so far this year.

Last year it set a monthly target of 54 per cent which was also not met. The report also revealed there had been an increase in reports of missed collections.

Officers said this was due to an increase in reporting this through the new My Southend App, which is now another means to report missed waste collections. The Government came under fire last year after it announced that targets for plastic recycling would be reduced from 57 per cent to 49 per cent for 2016 and then increased by two per cent each year to 2020, to a maximum of 57 per cent by 2020.