6 June 2019 by Joshua Doherty

West Devon opts to trial three-weekly collections

West Devon borough council has this week voted in favour of trialing a three-weekly residual collection later this year, as part of efforts to boost recycling rates.

The trial will begin in October and will also see the introduction of an additional container for residents enabling the collection of plastic pots, tubs, trays (PTT) and printer cartridges along with cardboard drinks containers and foil.

An FCC collections truck in West Devon

West Devon borough council achieved a 60% recycling rate in 2010, but this has declined each year to 51% in the latest set of figures.

FCC Environment, the council’s contractor, has agreed to run the trial to March/April 2021 and will share the operational costs 50/50.

Currently, residual waste for the largely rural council, which has around 55,000 residents, is collected fortnightly. This is alongside a weekly recycling collection of two boxes, split into plastic bottles, aerosol cans and food and drink tins, and another box for paper, card, glass and textiles. There is also a weekly food waste collection.

The trial will take place across 1,000 households, although exactly where is currently undecided.

Commenting on the changes, Cllr Caroline Mott, West Devon borough council’s lead member for the environment, said:  “Residents have been asking us for a long time to improve our waste and recycling service, and to enable them to put out more materials for recycling, such as more plastics, tetrapaks and foil.

“The trial of the three weekly black bag collection is the next logical step.  If your dry recycling and food waste is collected every week, and you recycle everything that you can, then there will hardly be any waste to go in your black bin.”

The results from the trial will report to the council, who will then decide whether to roll out the system across the borough


A report to the council, which was passed on Tuesday (June 4), explained that taking expenses for communications and additional customer services into account, the net cost to the Council would be around £17,000 in 2019-20 and £7,500 in 2020-21 for the trial. This will be met through the Strategic Waste Earmarked Reserve.

The annual savings expected from a three weekly scheme across the whole Borough is estimated at between £100,000 and £150,000 per year. However, these figures cannot be verified until the trial is complete.

Cllr Mott added: “For some residents there may be a fear of smell or vermin when waste is stored. However, all food waste and dry recyclables will continue to be collected on a weekly basis.”


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