Caroline Lucas has said the state of the city’s recycling is an issue she is “very angry” about.

Brighton's recycling rates for the year ending March 2022 stood at just 30.1 per cent, among the worst in the country, despite having the UK’s only Green MP.

In an exclusive interview with The Argus, Ms Lucas pinned the blame for the poor recycling rates on Labour and a contract the council is locked into until 2033.

She said: “One of the reasons that waste and recycling rates in the city is so bad is because we are locked into a PFI contract with Veolia by Labour councillors, which the Greens opposed.

“That has made it incredibly difficult to have leverage over Veolia to change and increase the range of different products they are willing to recycle.

“Everybody always raises this - how can it be that in what should be the greenest constituency in the country the recycling rate is so poor, relatively speaking? It’s something I’m very angry about.”

Ms Lucas said she has met Veolia several times to try to understand what would need to be done to be able to recycle more products in Brighton and Hove.

“Basically, they said they would need to upgrade the plant and that would cost them a lot of money - at the time, it would have cost £1 million but it would cost more than that now,” she said.

The Argus: Caroline Lucas pinned the blame for Brighton's recycling rates on a contract negotiated by LabourCaroline Lucas pinned the blame for Brighton's recycling rates on a contract negotiated by Labour (Image: The Argus/Andrew Gardner)

Ms Lucas approached then Environment Secretary Michael Gove to ask if the government would give money to councils locked into similar contracts. While he said he would engage with her on the matter, Mr Gove was moved from the ministerial position before he could make any progress on the issue.

Ms Lucas also said there is a question around the accuracy of recycling figures and asked how much of other councils' waste is actually being recycled.

She said: “I think it is a question we need to investigate because when I looked at that, quite a lot of it is either being shipped off to poorer countries and disposed of there and not actually being recycled or just sitting in big warehouses.”

Although the Greens had looked to introduce garden waste and food waste collection for the city, the proposal did not pass due to a lack of support among other councillors.