Most residents back segregated recycling, Basildon finds

Basildon borough council in Essex says a trial it ran in the autumn which saw some residents segregate dry recycling at the kerbside was backed by householders.  

Basildon
Large parts of the waste sector continued throughout the pandemic, so higher cases are expected

Currently, Basildon collects around 14,000 tonnes a year of commingled dry mixed recycling in pink sacks and has done so since 2008. 

Under the provisions of the Environment Act, the government will require councils to collect glass, metal, plastic, and paper separately (see letsrecycle.com story). 

Between 13 September and 25th October, 320 properties in the Noak Bridge housing estate in Basildon took part in a trial. Plastics and cans were collected from households in a crate while paper and card were collected in a reusable sack. 

Basildon
Plastics and cans were collected in a crate, with paper and card in a reusable sack

Basildon borough council hired a split lift vehicle from Riverside Truck Rental to collect the materials separately. The trial saw crews collect 1.2 tonnes of plastics and cans and 2.18 tonnes of paper and card. 

The council sent a survey about the service to residents. Overall, the service was rated 3.44 out of 5 stars. 

Meeting 

Councillors discussed the trials’ results at a meeting of Basildon’s leisure and environment committee on 24 November. 

They approved the procurement of a contract for the collection and processing of mixed dry recyclables – given Basildon’s current deal with Viridor expires on 31 March 2022 – and the running of a consultation on dry recycling models. 

The committee’s chair, Cllr Craig Rimmer, said: “I would like to thank residents who took part in the trial in Noak Bridge and who came back to us with feedback. 

“We are listening and will continue to listen so that we can balance out the preferences of our residents and the changes being made through the Environment Bill and our own waste strategy.”

This will enable us to run a service that improves recycling quality 

  • Cllr Craig Rimmer, Basildon

Consultation 

Based on the survey feedback, a report which went before Basildon’s leisure and environment committee says most residents supported the introduction of a segregated recycling service.  

Residents preferred the reusable sack to the crate. However, most residents said they would prefer a wheelie bin with an inner caddy, an option which was not trialled. 

The council will now consult on methods of collecting dry recycling, with the options of wheelie bin with an inner caddy and a reusable sack to be considered. The consultation will also consider whether weekly or fortnightly collections are preferable.

The council estimates the total cost for providing residents with these crates would be £553,000, crates with a lid £632,000, reusable sacks £632,000, and wheelie bins with an inner caddy £1.53 million. 

If the council chooses a segregated dry recycling model, Basildon’s current recycling vehicles will need to be returned for split body vehicles, the council’s report says. It estimates that early vehicle return penalties will be a one-off cost of £480,000. 

Collections 

During the trial, crews monitored the service to measure participation and usage of the containers. 

Nearly 94% of residents involved in the trial used their crates for plastics and cans. Crews reported that 86% of the crates were collected full, weighing an average of 3.75kg per property. 

Basildon
Crews reported that 86% of the crates were collected full

The reusable sack for paper and card was used by 92.5% of residents, and crews found them full 85% of the time.

As part of the survey on the service, some of the key issues identified by residents were recycling materials being left in containers, the containers proving to be a “hazard for foot and car traffic”, and a few missed collections. 

One of the key positives identified was that it was an efficient, timely and easy service that did not feel any different to the current model. Residents also believed the service provided support and education in understanding what can and cannot be recycled. 

Basildon 

Representing an estimated population of nearly 110,000, Conservative-controlled Basildon borough council had a recycling rate of 46% in the 2019/20 financial year. 

Viridor has collected, hauled, and processed dry recyclables for Basildon since May 2015. 

While Viridor’s deal initially lasted four years, it was extended to 31 March 2022. However, the council’s report says “it is likely” that dry recyclables will be collected in the current method until September 2023 “at the earliest”. 

Therefore, it is looking to procure a contract “to allow for service continuity”. 

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