Sweeping changes to Exeter rubbish collections to follow East Devon’s lead

Sweeping changes to the way Exeter’s rubbish collections work could be in place by spring 2021.

The latest Devon-wide statistics show only 27.1 per cent of waste is recycled in the city, by far the lowest in the county.

In comparison, East Devon has the highest rates with residents recycling more than double in Exeter with a rate of 59 per cent.

Earlier in the year, Exeter City Council’s executive voted to back the principle of changing the way waste is collected and to move to a three-weekly model as used in East Devon.

Under the new proposals, glass would now be collected from the kerbside rather than residents having to take their empty bottles and jars to recycling banks around the city.

Householders would also be issued with a food waste bin and a kitchen caddy for collecting.

Extra recycling boxes and bags would also be issued to householders to allow for the collection of glass bottles and jars.

Collections of the recyclable material would take place weekly, but with the introduction of food waste collections, less waste will need to go in the black bins, and so collections for household waste would only take place every three weeks.

When they meet on Thursday night, Exeter City Council’s place scrutiny committee are being recommended to continue to back the proposals and that nearly £4m is set aside in a budget to implement the changes.

Some £200,000 is to be set aside from General Fund revenue reserves to provide the project management and assistance with roll-out. A capital budget of £2.105million will also be provided for the improved recycling containers.

A capital budget of £1.5million to enhance the Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF) is required, a report states.

It adds: “Implementing these decisions will result in improved financial and environmental outcomes compared to our current service, increasing our recycling rate and reducing net carbon emissions.

“This will also meet the expectations from government and our residents that food waste and glass be included in our kerbside recycling service.

“Over the 10-year period, there is a small net cost of around £30,000 to implementing the option. However, from 2022-23, it will be providing a small saving each year to the revenue budget.

“The additional income projected for the MRF will not only be able to fund the borrowing costs associated with the MRF – £87,000 a year – but can also cover the risk of having to return to a fortnightly collection if that becomes mandatory even taking into account additional staffing costs.”

It adds that early engagement with key suppliers of vehicles, recycling containers, MRF sorting equipment and food waste treatment technology indicates that spring or summer 2021 is the earliest practicable date for full implementation of the new service.

Additional recycling drivers and loaders will be required, through a combination of external recruitment and redeployment of MRF team members.

The report says that three-weekly rubbish collections have been successfully introduced in other local authorities and that the preferred option was selected on the grounds of lowest cost, lowest net CO2 emissions, improved recycling rate and meeting most residents’ wishes to have food waste and glass collected for recycling at the kerbside.

Officers recommend that both the place scrutiny committee, and then subsequently the executive, advise the full council to adopt the new model and to set aside the £3.8m budget for its implementation.

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