RECYCLING chiefs have blamed ageing facilities as they announced almost two dozen job losses in Huddersfield.
Bosses at Sita Kirklees, the plant that processes waste from green bins and tips for Kirklees Council, say they will slash 22 jobs from their 51-strong workforce at the loss making facility.
They plan to scale down operations from two 48-hour shifts per week to one 45-hour shift and transport more than half of the plant’s current capacity to West Sleekburn in Northumberland.
The move will see 19,000 tonnes of recycling per year driven from Huddersfield to West Sleekburn in trucks – a journey of 135 miles.
But union leaders have said they still hoped to save jobs.
Mark Fieldhouse from Unite Kirklees said: “We’ve been working with Sita and as far as we’re concerned we’re still in consultation with them.”
Last night the Hillhouse based company defended the plan and said it would increase recycling rates in Kirklees.
A spokesman said, despite £1m investment in the plant over the last three years, the Northumberland plant was better equipped to deal with recycling that had been contaminated by non-recyclable waste, for instance when nappies were put in the green bin.
He said this meant a higher percentage of waste would be recycled.
A timescale for the change has not yet been decided and staff and unions are currently consulting with the company.
Sita UK Chief Operating Officer, John Scanlon, said the full closure of the plant had been considered and the decision had secured jobs in the region.
He said: “The age and design of the facility means it’s hard to achieve the best recycling rates possible for the council.
“Despite continued investment, production costs at Kirklees are more than twice the level of our nearest alternative facility at West Sleekburn.
“These higher costs are unsustainable and like any organisation in the current economic climate we must look at alternatives to reduce our costs whilst providing a first class service to the local council.”
Sita says the change will have no impact on the continued delivery of recycling services to homes and businesses in Kirklees and people should continue to present their recyclables for collection on the appropriate day.