Portsmouth favours twin stream collections

Portsmouth city council has approved plans to implement a twin stream collection system as opposed to a kerbside sort, “to meet the requirements of the Environment Bill”.

Portsmouth City Council civic offices

This would see residents use two bins for recycling: one for cardboard and paper, the other for glass, cartons, plastics, cans and aerosols.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) recently held a consultation on improving the consistency of recycling collections across England (see letsrecycle.com story).

Portsmouth City Council civic offices (picture: Gary Hider, Shutterstock)

If settled upon, the policies contained within the consultation will eventually be enacted via regulations which will be allowed under the much-delayed Environment Bill.

The Bill would specifically require waste collection authorities in England to collect glass, metal, plastic and paper from households. Portsmouth does not currently collect glass.

In its consultation document, Defra asserted its preference for local authorities to use a kerbside sort collection system, whereby residents would sort each material into separate containers.

However, where it was not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP) to collect each stream separately, local authorities would need to justify the use of a twin-stream collection approach.

‘Entirely sensible’

A meeting of Portsmouth city council on 27 July heard “practical concerns” about the use of a kerbside sort collection system in the city due to its narrow streets.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth city council, at the meeting on 27 July

David Emmett, head of the Portsmouth’s waste services, told the council the narrow streets would make loading vehicles “more challenging” and increase health and safety concerns for crews, alongside being more expensive.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, told the meeting he was in favour of twin stream collections. He said: “It seems to me entirely sensible, given that, being a city of terraced streets, often quite narrow terraced streets, we have particular issues with our transport network.

“So, it seems a sensible and pragmatic approach. I think it’s highly welcome that we’re going to be able to recycle more and different things door-to-door so that we can push up those recycling rates.”

The delivery of a twin stream collection system is “dependent” on the outcomes of the Environment Bill, a report which went before the council at the same meeting said. It also relies on agreement with “waste disposal partners” on the provision of a new materials recovery facility (MRF) and with other Hampshire waste collection authorities.

Twin stream collections

Portsmouth currently collects residual waste weekly and recycling fortnightly (picture: Portsmouth city council)

Under the proposals for twin stream collections, Portsmouth’s residents would receive an additional 140l container for recycling. Cardboard and paper would be collected separately, but glass, cartons, plastics, cans and aerosols would go into residents’ existing recycling container.

The provision of additional materials collections would reduce CO2e by approximately 1,500 tonnes per year, the council said.

And, the council believes the implementation of twin stream collections would require a new MRF, for which it has secured a site and set aside £4.84 million funded from “unsupported borrowing”.

It has also set aside £4.125 million to replace its existing fleet but says additional funding will be required for extra vehicles.


Portsmouth does not currently accept glass for recycling from the kerbside. Instead, bring banks are provided across the city.

“The idea that we can do glass recycling door-to-door is an excellent move forward”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson

At the meeting, councillors welcomed the new opportunity to recycle glass implementing twin stream collections would provide.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: “The idea that we can do glass recycling door-to-door is an excellent move forward. I think we need to be doing this because we need to be doing it, not because of an Environment Bill that has been hanging around for several years now.”


Representing a population of nearly 240,000, Portsmouth city council had a recycling rate of 26.7% in the 2019/20 financial year.

Portsmouth city council had a recycling rate of 26.7% in the 2019/20 financial year (picture: Shutterstock)

Currently, Portsmouth collects residual waste weekly and recycling fortnightly. By September, more than 55,000 households representing approximately 60% of residents will also receive a separate food waste collection. There is also a network of bring banks for glass, textiles and cartons.

Domestic waste services in Portsmouth are carried out by Biffa Municipal Ltd, after the waste management company was awarded a two-year extension to an eight-year contract which first began in October 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Residual waste is collected weekly in Portsmouth and taken to a nearby energy from waste (EfW) plant, where enough electricity is produced to power 20,600 homes.


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