East Devon council has reported that early results from its trial to reduce residual waste collection frequency and increase recycling capacity for homes in two boroughs have seen tonnages of recycling increase.
The local authority launched the trial scheme involving around 1,800 households in Feniton and Exmouth last month (September) which sees refuse collections reduced from a fortnightly to a three-weekly schedule, and recyclables collected weekly. Food waste collections remain on a weekly basis.
Households included in the trial can also recycle a wider range of materials such as cardboard egg boxes and toilet paper tubes as well as mixed plastics pots, tubs and trays, at the kerbside – which is collected weekly by contractor Suez. The material is collected alongside other recyclable materials including paper, plastic bottles and metal cans commingled in a green recycling box.
Residents involved in the trial have also been given a green bag to deposit any additional dry recyclables that they may not be able to fit in the box.
According to the council, tonnages of recyclable material collected have increased in the trial areas when compared to pre-trial levels.
East Devon claims that from the trial areas in Feniton, a total of around 5.2 tonnes of recyclables were collected during one week of the trial, compared to around 3.9 tonnes of material collected before the trial.
In Exmouth, the council claims that 3.5 tonnes of recyclables were collected over one week of the trial, an increase of 1.3 tonnes when compared to pre-trial levels.
Commenting on the results, councillor Iain Chubb, the council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said: “Householders across East Devon have been asking us to help them recycle more and waste less for some time now and I’m hoping these trials will help us understand the practicalities of how we can meet their needs, benefit our environment and ensure the service we provide is economically viable.”
The council has yet to provide any details of the quality of the recyclable material produced during the trial, and whether or not there has been a spike in contamination caused by a restriction on the available capacity for residual waste at the kerbside.
Critics of reduced frequency collection systems have questioned whether the measure is a suitable tool to increasing recycling rates, if it leads to higher contamination levels from non-recyclable materials at the kerbside.
Recyclables from East Devon are sent to a materials recycling facility (MRF) operated in the borough by Suez at the Greendale Business Park for sorting and separation.
Suez, previously SITA UK, has carried out waste and recycling collections on behalf of East Devon council since 2006. The council is trialling new collection arrangements ahead of the end of its current contract, which is due to expire in March 2016.
The council has stated that, if successful, the modified arrangements could be extended across the district from next year.