'HESSIAN' sacks may be introduced to replace waste boxes, the Wokingham Borough Council announced last week - however this decision has gained some very mixed responses from residents.

The potential change was announced on July 28, with the council stating concerns that the current boxes don't provide enough waterproofing of cardboard and other waste, meaning it can no longer be recycled at plants, causing environmental and financial strain on the council.

The proposed bags, made of water-proof polypropylene, weighted with recycled rubber and Velcro sealable openings, are allegedly "the best option" out of the recycling options available, according to Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.

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He said: "We have to work with what is possible.

"Some residents like the idea of wheelie bins and others don’t – but that is an issue for the future because they could not be practically introduced in the borough with our current contract and fleet of vehicles.

"We believe the weighted, waterproof sacks are the best way to go to solve the immediate problem we face."

Residents questioned the council over the proposed changes to recycling in the latest council meeting, on July 30.

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Alan Winter, Wokingham resident, asked Cllr Parry Batth in the virtual meeting: “You’ve described the proposed new recycling sacks as being made of Hessian.

"Can you reassure residents who are concerned about the environmental impact and guarantee that the Hessian bags will be made of natural, recyclable material and not actually made of plastic?”

In response, Cllr Batth said: "I can confirm these kinds of sacks have generically been called Hessian but in fact are made from woven-polypropylene fibre, with a light plastic coating to ensure a resistance to moisture.

"They are reusable and can last up to five years, and so they are not of single plastic use.

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"We will be investigating the possibility of having them recycled when they are no longer useable."

Following this answer, Mr Winter asked the council if they could stop using the term Hessian bags, describing the phrase as "entirely misleading and wrong".

Mr Winter also asked Cllr Batth: "Has the level of carbon emissions from the sacks been considered in the decision to change the sacks rather than boxes or has that decision been purely about saving money?"

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Cllr Batth replied to both questions, saying: "You are absolutely right. I have asked for the word Hessian to be removed from all publicity material in future," adding "these bags are only using a small amount of plastic on the outside, to keep the moisture out, because wet waste gets rejected costs us a lot of money to process."

Cllr Batth also claimed that "These bags are not really plastic, they are polypropylene."

However according the the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of polypropylene is 'A type of plastic used for many purposes, such as food packaging, making ropes, and making artificial fabrics.'