EAST Lancashire councils received almost £500,000 by selling materials it had collected for recycling last year, it can be revealed.

Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Ribble Valley Councils collected a combined total of £481,078 in 2013, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

The money was used to off-set the cost of collection, documents show.

Over the last five years, Hyndburn Council has sold more than £1.12m worth of material.

Deputy council leader Joan Smith said: “There’s a couple of reasons why it’s important. We are set targets for how much of our waste we should try and recycle. We are one of the best in the country, never mind Lancashire.

“By recycling and selling on, we are actively contributing to the income of the council, and keep our costs down.

“We have good officers who have always been proactive, and the more income we get, the better service we can provide in other areas.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council said it does ‘not sell recyclables, nor have we ever done so,’ while Burnley Council said it had an agreement with the county council and did not sell any recyclables itself.

Streetscene support officer at Burnley Council, Maria Williams, said: “We have not had any direct income from the sale of recycling materials to the markets since 2012.

“As the waste disposal authority, the county council has the exclusivity to sell the recyclables, which offsets some of the costs of collecting the materials.”

Head of finance and property services at Rossendale Council, Phil Seddon, said: “Given the current financial austerity within the public sector, which has seen five years of year on year reductions in the funding this council receives from central government, it is important that the council takes every opportunity it can to maximise other revenue streams available to it.

“Any additional revenue, such as recycling income, ensures that the council is able to continue to deliver first class services to the people of Rossendale and to maintain a freeze on council tax.”