15 October 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Exeter approves three-weekly collections

Exeter city council has approved changes to its household waste collection service – which will see residents’ residual waste collected every three weeks.

Changes will include three-weekly residual collections as well as investment in Exeter’s MRF, pictured above

The executive committee unanimously supported plans for a weekly kerbside sort recycling collection with three weekly residual collections, as well as associated investment in the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Kerbside glass and food waste services – which are not currently provided in Exeter – will be incorporated into the new collections.

At a meeting earlier this month, the committee decided that the new service, which is carried out in-house, will be rolled out in spring or summer 2021, largely due to the time needed to acquire new vehicles.

Just over £2.1 million will be budgeted for new triple-stack recycling containers which will allow kerbside sorting, whilst £1.5 million will be used to enhance the MRF. £200,000 has been set aside for project management and assistance with roll out.

Modelling by consultants Eunomia has indicated that the changes would reduce net annualised costs by £67,000 per year, increase the city’s recycling rate and provide a net reduction in CO2 emissions.

Commenting on the three weekly collections, Councillor Emma Morse portfolio holder for supporting people said: “There will be people who will resent it at the start, but we have been there before.

“It is going to be an education problem and hopefully people will like it as much as we do.”

Kerbside sort

Exeter say that the triple stack boxes residents will use to sort materials at the kerbside have been identified as best practice in the UK.

“There will be people who will resent it at the start, but we have been there before. It is going to be an education problem and hopefully people will like it as much as we do.”

Cllr Emma Morse, Exeter city council

Further assessments will be made during visits to other local authorities using the system in Devon, Wales and further afield – but recycling, waste and fleet officer Simon Hill has identified their potential to reduce manual handling risks, improve material quality and resident satisfaction.

Cllr Ollie Pearson, portfolio holder for leisure and physical activity, said the food and glass collections were what residents wanted.

“It is something that when our officers are out talking to residents we know that people want,” he said. “For a long time they have not understood why we cannot do that.”

Mr Hill’s report highlighted that the food waste and glass collections would bring Exeter in line with the legislation proposed in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.

Whilst concern was expressed that Defra may mandate fortnightly collections, it was suggested that the costs of switching to these would be covered by Extended Producer Responsibility and failure to make changes now would risk “complete failure of the MRF”.


Operational issues at Exeter’s MRF – which is operated by the city council – were raised at a place scrutiny committee meeting in September 2018.

These issues have continued to affect the MRFs financial performance and the draft budget for 2018/19 showed an overspend of £213,300.

The investment should improve performance. Initial revenue and borrowing costs are expected to be recovered in the first three years of the project and annual ongoing costs are “more than covered”, resulting in annual savings for the council.


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