RUSHMOOR Council is urging Farnborough and Aldershot residents to carry on recycling despite a blunder which saw tons of reusable waste dumped in landfill sites.

Bosses at Hampshire County Council came under fire last week when they admitted to dumping tons of recyclable waste in a landfill site.

Nearly 9,000 tons of household and garden waste was buried in the ground rather than being treated at the Portsmouth Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

However, bosses in Rushmoor’s environmental services department are urging residents not to be disheartened and to continue recycling.

Rushmoor has spent thousands on providing more than 17,000 households in Farnborough and Aldershot with blue bins to recycle reusable waste.

In a statement the county council said it was doing all it could to resolve the recycling problem and blamed dumping waste in landfill sites on the lack of existing facilities.

The county council said: “To rectify the situation some recyclables are now being taken to a plant in Reading, which will alleviate the current capacity difficulties. In addition, a new MRF at Alton is due to start operating in July next year.”

The authority said the problem was largely a result of the success of its waste disposal policies under Project Integra. It said Hampshire’s recycling rate of 21% was one of the highest in the UK.

The council added: “Much of this is due to the excellent way residents have embraced the need to recycle material to improve the environment. This success outstripped recycling capacity for a short period of time, requiring a small amount of waste destined to be recycled instead being placed in landfill.”

The need to retrieve waste has also been driven by government targets and European legislation.

The county council is urging the public not to lose faith, saying that 96% of recyclable material is still recycled.

These sentiments were echoed by David Quirk, Rushmoor’s head of environmental services, who said it is imperative for residents in the borough to carry on recycling. He said: “It’s a huge logistical task and we didn’t get it quite right.”

He added he was confident no more material would be landfilled.

“We’ve put a huge investment into phase one of the blue wheelie bin and we are committed to going ahead with the second phase.”

Councillors discussed progress of the recycling initiative at a meeting at Rushmoor last week. Council officer Graham Hunt said the project had increased Rushmoor’s recycling rate to 15% but said the borough needed to do more to meet the government targets set for 2005-06.