Cornwall council will put up to £62 million more into its household waste collection and cleansing contract in an effort to boost its recycling rates.
The contract will see new vehicles and facilities acquired, as well as move to fortnightly residual waste collections and weekly recycling and food waste services.
Cornwall’s recycling rate for 2017/18 was 36.1%, but the council said that the planned service can bring the figure up to 52%, in line with the UK national average.
Speaking at Tueday’s (10 September) full council meeting to discuss the proposals, Cllr Martyn Alvey described the county as currently “playing in the Sunday pub league” when it came to recycling.
The motion, which was passed by councillors at the meeting, notes that the exact amount which will be spent will be determined following the award of the contract – however £62 million is the upper limit of the approved spending.
The contract will begin on 1 April 2020 and includes provision of services including collections for residual waste, dry recycling, food waste, clinical waste, garden waste and bulky waste. It also covers flytipping removal, street cleansing and litter bin provision.
Cornwall’s current contract with Biffa ends on 31 March 2020. The new contract will run from 1 April 2020 for eight years, with a possible extension of another two years. This contract is separate to Suez’s Integrated Waste Management Contract with the local authority which covers waste disposal, processing and treatment.
A report to the council’s cabinet on 24 July explained that the new contract will be delivered in two stages – the first will see the current collection system continue, whilst from May 2022 the new service will be rolled out.
The new service will see a move to fortnightly residual waste collections, which will be limited to a 180-litre capacity with a ‘no side-waste’ policy.
Cllr Mark Kaczmarek raised concerns that the less frequent residual collections would not be matched by more investment in Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).
He said: “It doesn’t address the impact the fortnightly waste collections will have and what will happen is more people will use the Household Waste Recycling Centres.”
It was also questioned whether residents in flats and properties with less space would struggle to use the wheeled bins which are due to be introduced with the changes.
However Cllr Rob Nolan, portfolio holder for environment and public protection, suggested that “seagull proof” bags could be used as an alternative.
New vehicles will also be acquired for Cornwall’s collection service.
Cllr Nolan said the council were looking for diesel Euro Six vehicles and bidders would have to use route optimisation software to create the most efficient programme.
He added: “We cannot afford electric vehicles and I do not think they particularly suit Cornwall’s disparate areas.”
In July Cornwall’s cabinet were told that it was likely a new or additional Material Recycling Facility (MRF) will be needed in the future. This is to deal with population growth and the expected increase in materials as recycling participation increases.
Cllr Dick Cole also questioned how the collection changes would impact Cornwall’s Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at St Dennis. He expressed concern that a fall in household non-recyclable waste could mean the incinerator was burning more commercial waste and asked for clarity on how this would impact the council.