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Mid Devon sees recycling rise after three-weekly rollout

Mid Devon district council has said its recycling rate increased by more than 4% since the introduction of three-weekly residual waste collections in October 2022.

Defra food waste

The council pointed out that the district’s recycling rate has risen to 56.6% compared to 52% during the same period in 2021/22.

The local authority explained that the changes to its collection method were introduced following a successful trial that took place between July and October 2021.

Called ‘Bin-It 123’, the scheme has seen residual waste collected three weekly, with dry recycling and food waste collected fortnightly and weekly respectively. The council outlined that the change aims to help meet the government’s target to recycle 65% by 2035 and Devon’s proposed target of 60% by 2025.

Despite the success of the scheme, the local authority warned last month that the “early results of the scheme, whilst promising, suggest too much recycling is still being placed in black bags”. As a result, the council said it started carrying out education and enforcement with residents who are not complying as of 1 February.

Trial

The three-month trial that preceded the change included more than a thousand households. A council report noted that it has proven to have a “significant” impact on improving the recycling rate as well as reducing the carbon impact waste collection has on the environment.

The success of the trial was attributed to communication strategy, which “is key to successfully implementing a modification to waste collection”. The council added that face to face communication proved to be “the most effective method” of engagement.

The report also stated that the trial saw the amount of food waste placed in food waste caddies increase “substantially”, with this being the main contributor to the “impressive decline” in residual waste presented during the trial.

Food waste

The local authority continued that food waste has also been “the major contributor” to the change in the recycling rates. It said that the amount of food waste collected has increased by 6.8% since the introduction of the new collection system, with residual waste decreasing by 14.5%.

Waste and transport manager Simon Bruford said: “We know recycling rates can vary month to month but seeing an improvement in rates since the start of Bin-It 123 is a positive indicator for the new service.

“While there was scepticism when the change was first announced, many residents have quietly got on with making the scheme work and found ways to cut the amount of waste they throw away.”

The council continued that a recent resident survey found that most (71%) respondents were “fairly or very satisfied” with the waste collection service. It added that following the feedback, it is now also exploring the possibility of trialling a weekly recycling collection.

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