Cornwall’s waste volumes stable despite tourism rise

Cornwall council’s waste disposal contractor, Suez, says residual waste volumes look to be “on par with pre-pandemic summer levels” despite an increase in domestic tourism.

Visit Cornwall believes there were 2.4 million visitors to Cornwall this summer (picture: Suez)

However, with comprehensive data not yet available, the council says it expects that levels of household and commercial waste will have increased this summer.

Visit Cornwall, the county’s official tourist board, told that in a normal year they would have an estimated 2.1 million visitors. This year, with Covid-19-related restrictions making foreign travel difficult, Visit Cornwall believes they had 2.4 million.

A spokesperson for Suez told “The pandemic has impacted waste trends over the year, as people began spending more time at home. More recently, we have seen tourism in Cornwall increasing as restrictions are lifted.

“From May to July 2021, we have processed 66,106 tonnes of residual waste at the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre. In the same period in 2020 and 2019, we processed 63,883 tonnes and 66,825 tonnes respectively.

“The residual waste flows we are seeing now are roughly in line with pre-pandemic summer levels, so it does not appear that the increase in domestic tourism in Cornwall is impacting the service.”

It is worth noting that increased tourism may have a more pronounced impact on commercial waste, where data is patchy, than household waste.


With a population of more than 565,000, Cornwall had a recycling rate of 33.3% in the 2019/20 financial year.

It does not appear that the increase in domestic tourism in Cornwall is impacting the service

– Suez spokesperson

In October 2006, SITA UK, now known as Suez UK, was awarded a 30-year waste disposal contract with Cornwall council (see story).

The waste collected from households in Cornwall is processed locally within the county. Recyclable materials are sent to two materials recycling facilities in Bodmin and Pool, while any non-recyclable waste is sent to the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre in St Dennis, which Suez says generates enough electricity to power around 21,000 homes.


Biffa has collected household waste on behalf of the council since its 2016 acquisition of Cory Environmental Municipal Services, which had held the contract since 2011.

Waste collection in Cornwall is carried out by Biffa

In January 2020, Biffa agreed a new eight-year contract to provide waste collection and street cleansing services across the county (see story).

In recent months, a national shortage of HGV drivers has led many councils to delay or suspend collection services. However, Cornwall council told on 9 September that these services had been “uninterrupted to date”.

A spokesperson said: “There is a national LGV driver shortage which is having an impact on the waste industry. This emerging issue is being managed locally to ensure that we continue to provide waste collection and cleansing services.”


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