THE past year comes as a surprise when talking about recycling.

The borough has survived almost 365 days with the partial roll-out of wheelie bins and restrictions on black bags.

And, touch wood, the plans spearheaded by former waste bosses Dominic Graham and Jessica Scott-Boutell seem to be working well.

But there is still much more to be achieved.

That’s according to new waste chief Martin Goss.

Fellow Lib Dem Mr Goss says he is not the kind of man to put his name on someone else’s work.

He has plenty of ideas to get recycling figures as high as possible, with the latest figures due to be released at the end of the month.

Looking back on the past year, he said: “If you look at the figures it has pushed Colchester up the league table.

“It has settled down generally and it has forced people to change their own behaviours, which was needed.

“When there was talk of changing back to weekly collections in the run up to the local elections, people were asking why we would want to reverse it.”

Still, it goes without saying there is no strength without struggle - and there was certainly struggle.

Mr Goss said: “It would be dishonest of me to say in the first months there were not operational challenges.

“The changes meant people were putting things out on the wrong weeks or not realising there was a limit, but with time people have got used to it.”

He admitted there were still some problems with fly-tipping, but took a hard stance on what the consequences would be.

Mr Goss added: “I’m pleased to say quite a few people have been fined and long may that continue.

“It’s that simple, I’m quite happy to harden that approach to a zero tolerance one.

“There’s a small amount of people that just won’t change their behaviours and I’m happy to turn the handle a lot tighter on these people.”

He has plenty up his sleeve to make recycling easier, including introducing longer opening hours at pick-up points for containers and sacks.

He also wants to increase recycling numbers by looking into collections of Tetra Packs, which are currently non-recyclable.

Supermarket giants and food places will also be hounded to cut down on their use of plastics.

It sounds achievable, but there are still some obstacles to get over - in particular, the Shrub End tip owned by Essex County Council.

To reduce congestion at the site, Mr Goss plans to speak with county council bosses about introducing a three-bag fortnightly limit there.

He said: “I took the time to speak to staff there and they said some people are bringing black sacks.

“They will be able to spot potential people who are bringing all their rubbish to landfill.

“I also want to speak to them about what plastic can be recycled at the tip, there is a small definition of what can be recycled which has got to change.

“You can’t have two different councils with two different policies, it has to be seamless.”

What is also important to Mr Goss is generating investment.

He is hoping to change the way the council sends off food and garden waste to be disposed of.

At the moment, the borough council gives the waste to the county council, which makes deals with recycling companies to dispose of it.

The borough council is then supposed to receive some financial credit, but Mr Goss said County Hall bosses are not paying up.

He said: “They are only passing back part of the credit for green waste, and none at all for food.

“So we said fine, we will go out and do it ourselves and deal directly with the contractors, so we get the direct investment.”

He believes it could make the council £315,000 a year.

One of the more recent successes is the move to provide flats with recycling facilities.

The decision to fund an additional refuse and recycling collection vehicle will ensure flat residents will be able to recycle as much plastic as possible.

Mr Goss said: “We appreciate how important recycling services are to local residents and are very grateful for the efforts people make to recycle – so I’m delighted to be able to invest in the service to allow many more residents to recycle plastics.

“The investment in a new collection vehicle will also provide extra capacity to collect recycling from new homes in the borough.”