23 September 2019 by Will Date

Reading to fast-track food waste service

Reading borough council is to consider plans to overhaul its waste and recycling system, with a proposal to introduce weekly food waste collections, having previously rejected the idea.

A report submitted to the council’s policy committee ahead of a meeting on Thursday (26 September) details the plan to introduce a weekly food waste collection, as well as scaling down residual waste bins from 240l to 140l.

Reading council is to approve plans to introduce a food waste collection service

Under the revised system, residual waste and recycling collections would continue on an alternate weekly cycle, but it is hoped that the introduction of a weekly food waste collection would help push the local authority towards a 50% recycling and composting rate from its current 32% level.

Reading currently collects 59,000 tonnes a year of refuse from grey bins, and 19,000 tonnes of recycling from red recycling bins.

Processing capacity

The report acknowledges that the government is pushing local authorities towards weekly separate food waste collections through its Resources and Waste Strategy, with a deadline of 2023 for the rollout of the service.

However, the borough council has opted to begin the introduction of its own food waste scheme earlier, phased in from 2020, as the market place for food waste collection and recycling services is likely to become crowded in the build up to 2023.

“We know that there is currently processing capacity for food waste, and collection vehicles availability with reasonable lead in times. Achieving a saving by introducing food waste would be a further incentive for earlier implementation,” the report notes.

The report adds that the council’s proposal of combining smaller bins and a new food waste collection service will result in an estimated ongoing revenue cost of £873,000 per year and achieve reduction in disposal costs of £980,000.

A reduction in disposal costs is achieved as a result of the much higher cost of landfill waste per tonne, than the cost of food waste processing per tonne. Overall this is estimated to deliver a saving of £107,000 per year as well as an estimated increased recycling rate in excess of 11%, taking it to over 43%. Up-front costs will be in the region of £1.5 million.


Outlining the proposals in advance of Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Sophia James, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “Increasing our rate of recycling to 50% in Reading is an ambitious target but one which I’m confident we can achieve if we all work together.

“I’m sure that a vast majority of people do want to do the right thing and recycle at home but there is some confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.

I’m sure that a vast majority of people do want to do the right thing and recycle at home but there is some confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.

Cllr Sophia James

“The good news is that recycling in Reading is very easy – plastic bottles and trays, yoghurt pots, tins, cans, foil, card and paper can all go into the same bin and are sorted at our recycling centre.

“I am very excited about the introduction of a food waste collection scheme which I am sure will be very popular with households in Reading and will go a long way towards boosting our recycling rate and seriously reduce landfill levels and subsequent harmful gas emissions.

“Reading residents do a great job at recycling already and I am positive the launch of our campaign and changes to waste collection will help us reach our 50% target.”

Proposals for a food waste service were previously considered by the council in 2015, but scrapped after it was deemed that the proposal was too costly (see letsrecycle.com story).


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