Herefordshire considers collecting food waste by bike

Herefordshire council will vote this week (21 July) on plans to include the collection of food waste by bike in its forthcoming waste collection contract.

The council said the proposed changes will save costs by driving waste up the hierarchy

Currently, the council operates a fortnightly collection of residual waste and a commingled recycling collection via a 25-year waste management contract FCC Environment, signed in 1998 and due to expire in November 2023.

A report to go before the council’s cabinet has recommended extending this contract to June 2024 and beginning procurement for a new deal with three-weekly residual waste collections and a twin-stream recycling service.

Paper and card would also be collected every three weeks, with garden waste collected fortnightly and food waste to be collected by bike every week.

Cost

The new deal is estimated to cost around £8 million a year, double the current £4 million budget.

The cost per household would be around £50, and Herefordshire has said that £4.3 million per year is met from an earmarked waste reserve already built up over the past 10 years.

The council conducted a soft market testing exercise, which found that “the more experienced contractors would prefer to award under a single contract”.

This exercise also found a general preference for contracts of seven to 10 years in length from the “experienced” contractors, whilst contracts shorter than this would deter them from bidding.

Herefordshire is a largely rural authority; pictured Ross on Wye (source: Shutterstock)

The council has therefore recommended an eight-year contract duration, with the potential to extend it by up to another 12 years in single or multiple extensions by mutual agreement.

Fleet

As part of the contract, the council will also be upgrading its refuse collection vehicles to incorporate weighting and geotagging infrastructure.

Weighting and geotagging technology will modernise Herefordshire’s commercial waste and recycling service to a pay-by-weight model, the council says.

The proposal is that the new provider will finance the capital investment required for the new waste collection vehicle fleet.

The current estimated cost for upgrading the fleet is £13.3 million. However, this will be “further refined with the method statements and capital requirements from the successful bidder and as part of the detailed business cases assessment.”

Bikes

The report noted some concerns regarding the application of cargo bikes beyond limited urban areas, but said there was a “general openness to considering alternative technologies where this can be proven to be efficient”.

The exact geographic area the bikes would cover will be developed as part of a separate procurement process in order to maximise benefits, value for money and to utilise expertise and innovation from the UK and international market.

It is likely the bikes will be rolled out for city centre collections only, where the material can be taken to a depot before being sent for further processing.

A string of other councils have also explored collecting waste by bike. Putney Pedals collects commercial material using this method, while First Mile also last month invested in four electric bikes to collect commercial material.

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