Exeter on verge of £3.8million rubbish collection overhaul

New kerbside collection vehicles are to be trialled in Exeter ahead of major changes to way the city’s waste is recycled being introduced in 2021.

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 be collected from the kerbside rather than residents having to take their empty bottles and jars to recycling banks. Extra recycling boxes and bags would be handed out as a result of this.

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

Collections of the recyclable materials would take place weekly, with household waste ‘black bin’ picked up every three weeks.

At Tuesday night’s executive meeting, councillors agreed to set aside £200,000 from reserves to provide assistance with the rollout.

A budget of £2.1million for the new recycling containers, and £1.5million to make improvements to the Material Reclamation Facility (MRF) was also agreed.

Simon Hill, service manager for recycling, waste and fleet, told the committee that there would be a net saving of around £30,000 a year to the council by implementing the changes and there would be additional income projected for the MRF.

He added: “The modelling carried out by our consultant Eunomia indicated that this would reduce net annualised costs by £67,000 per year, increase our recycling rate and give the greatest net reduction in CO2 emissions.

“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.”

His report to the meeting said it would take at least a year to procure the new vehicles required for the changes and that new containers will have to be introduced.

As part of the lead-in, the council will trial a vehicle similar to the one used in other local authority areas such as East Devon.

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.

Councillor David Harvey, lead for environment and city management, said: “People have said for years now that they want to recycle more and for glass to be recycled from the kerbside.

“We are now committed to implementing these changes, but we want to make sure that we get it right.

“This is a long process before we introduce this scheme, so it makes sense to have a look at the vehicles that other councils are using and talk to them about how they have implemented this technology and the challenges they faced along the way.

“It’s crucial that we get this right before we start collecting and we are looking to ensure as far as we can, all the snags are sorted before we let the service loose on the streets.”

He also revealed that all the old bins that will need to be replaced will be recycled.

Cllr Emma Morse added: “I am pleased we are moving forward with this as we have looked into it for so long and had to put on the backburner as we didn’t have the technology or the money.

“There will be people who resent it, but we have been there before.”

Cllr Ollie Pearson added: “This has been a long time coming and it’s great to see and officers finally found a way to make it happen as people couldn’t understand why couldn’t recycle their food waste.”

The executive unanimously recommended to next Tuesday’s full council meeting that members give the changes the go-ahead with changes, a budget of £3.8m is set aside for its implementation and to trial the new kerbside collecting vehicles.

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