Derbyshire Dales halts food waste as IVC site ‘closes’

Derbyshire Dales district council has announced it will be suspending food waste collections from 1 March after it said the company which processed the material has closed its processing facility. 

Food waste is collected by the council's waste contractor Serco, but have now been paused for four weeks

Derbyshire Dales had a contract with Vital Earth GB, which saw the council send food waste to Vital Earth’s in-vessel composting (IVC) facility in Ashbourne.

However, in a statement yesterday (1 March), the local authority said that it had suspended food waste collections, because the IVC plant has been permanently closed.

The council said: “The permanent closure of the privately owned Vital Earth reprocessing facility in Ashbourne means residents are asked for the next four weeks to mix food waste in their domestic waste containers. All food caddy collections are paused from 1 March.

“While Derbyshire Dales district council remains one of the few councils locally to offer separate food waste collections, we apologise for the temporary inconvenience to our residents.”

As a result, the council is asking residents to mix their food waste in with domestic waste for the next four weeks, while it negotiates on details of a new arrangement with its waste contractor Serco.

Vital Earth

Vital Earth has recycled food and garden waste from Derbyshire Dales collections into compost for several years, at the company’s 85,000 tonnes per-year capacity facility.

According to its website, Vital Earth also processed food waste for Stoke-on-Trent and South Derbyshire councils. However, neither of these has yet announced any potential changes to their food waste collections.

Vital Earth’s website claimed that the £10 million Ashbourne site was the largest in-vessel composting site in the UK, and it was built in 2006 (see story).

Vital Earth’s Ashbourne site, pictured when it opened in 2006

The company was acquired by Longcliffe Quarries Limited in 2021, Companies House documents show. Both companies declined to comment on the announcement from the council.


Serco has been collecting the council’s waste since taking over from Veolia in August 2012 under a contract that was re-awarded in 2019 (see story).

The award included the council’s decision to fully finance the procurement of new vehicles to support the modernisation and delivery of the contract, which included weekly food waste collections.

The council has managed to find alternative recycling centres to take care of the district’s garden waste, both in the north and south of Derbyshire. Garden waste collections for residents on bin collections will continue unchanged, while residents on sack collections have already been notified of any changes by the council.

Derbyshire Dales district council serves around 72,000 residents and had a recycling rate of 61.9% in the financial year 2019/20, which fell to 55.6% the following year.

The council said it will update residents soon when it finds an alternative site.

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