21 June 2019 by Will Date

Compulsory recycling and food waste trial for Swindon

Swindon borough council is making its kerbside recycling service compulsory for residents from August 2019.

The move comes ahead of a trial of separate food waste collections, to be launched the following month (September), which is a part of the council’s ten-year strategy to hit a 60% recycling rate by 2029, up from 39.3% at present.

Swindon council is taking steps to make participation in its kerbside recycling scheme mandatory (Picture: @SwindonCouncil)

From August 1, council officers will be working with residents who put recyclable materials in their black wheeled bin or blue bag, providing advice and where necessary, using formal enforcement procedures to encourage participation in the recycling service.

Councils can make recycling a compulsory requirement for residents under section 46 of the 1990 Environment Protection Act, which can lead to fixed penalty notices for those failing to participate in the service. However, only a handful of local authorities in the UK currently use these powers. These include Islington and Mid Devon councils.

Swindon operates a fortnightly kerbside-sort recycling using boxes and bags, with residents asked to present paper and card, glass bottles and jars, metal cans and tins, empty aerosols and foil in boxes. A recent campaign from the council asked residents to use, where possible, for paper and card from other materials, to assist crews in sorting.

Householders can also present plastic bottles and pots, tubs and tray, as well as some films in white or transparent bags.

Food waste

On food waste, which is not collected separately at present, the council will outline shortly the first areas to be trialling the new caddy collection service, which it is anticipated will be rolled out across the borough in late 2020.

The council says it hopes that the move will see less food waste being sent to its solid recovered fuel (SRF) plant at Cheney Manor, which is used to process residual waste from the town.

Commenting on the steps, Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and the Environment, said: “Our waste strategy will help Swindon to achieve the best possible environmental and economic outcomes over the next decade.

“We have high aspirations for the future of waste reduction and recycling in Swindon and we are determined to introduce new initiatives that will enable us to become as sustainable as possible.”


Cllr Maureen Penny
Swindon council

“There has been a real focus in the past couple of years on the impact our waste is having on the environment and we all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste we produce and recycle as much as possible

“This year we will be trialling a new food waste collection, which we hope residents will get involved with. If residents use the service it will have a real impact on Swindon’s recycling ambitions.

“We will also be introducing compulsory recycling which will provide the opportunity for our waste wardens to support those who are struggling to recycle and help people feel more confident in their recycling abilities.

“We have high aspirations for the future of waste reduction and recycling in Swindon and we are determined to introduce new initiatives that will enable us to become as sustainable as possible.”

Falling rates

In Swindon, recycling has fallen over the last five years from 48% in 2011 to 38% in 2016/17, the council says. And, collection and disposal of waste in the borough is reported to cost around £14 million per year.

In 2017/18 the council collected a total of 92,522 tonnes of waste and recycling, of which around 56% was converted to SRF and sent to energy from waste, and around 4% was sent to landfill.

The council looked to drop the collection of plastic waste in late 2018, in response to concerns over a lack of export routes for the material, however a proposal to do so was later dropped (see letsrecycle.com story).

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