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Plans to drive up recycling rates in Cornwall

Plans to drive up recycling rates in Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 1:19pm 20th April 2018.

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Wheelie bins could help reduce the amount of litter on the streets of Cornwall and drive up recycling rates councillors were told this week.

An inquiry was held on Thursday to look at what forms of containers should be used as Cornwall looks at ways of boosting the amount of rubbish which is recycled and reducing black bag waste.

The council is currently in the process of drawing up a new contract for rubbish and recycling collection services which will start in 2020.

At the same time the council has taken the opportunity to review how rubbish and recycling is collected in Cornwall.

Current figures show that just 35% of waste in Cornwall is currently recycled but the council has set itself a target of 48% which is still lower than other parts of the country.

And in some parts of Cornwall the number of households which recycle is as low as just 15%.

Under the proposed new system the council would move to a weekly recycling and food waste collection with a fortnightly “black bag” collection for all other waste.

As part of the proposed changes the council is looking at how residents should store their waste and put it out for collection.

Yesterday the neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee held an inquiry where they questioned representatives from other authorities around the country about their methods, had a chance to look at containers which could be used and also quizzed the council’s own officers leading the project.

On display in County Hall were wheelie bins, seagull-proof sacks, trolley boxes and an assortment of bags and sacks.

No firm proposals have been drawn up but a new form of containers is expected to be brought forward as an option for the council to consider next month. Alternatively the council could continue with the current arrangements of bags and a box for recycling and residents using black bags for other waste.

The inquiry heard from Carl Touhig from Monmouthshire County Council, where they already have weekly recycling and fortnightly waste collections. There the overall recycling rate is just over 60% and the kerbside recycling rate is 67%.

Mr Touhig explained that the council had limited households to putting out just two bags of rubbish out fortnightly. He said that restricting the amount people could throw away was a key to driving up recycling rates.

Chris Braines from Teignbridge District Council told councillors that they provide a 180-litre wheelie bin which could hold two sacks of rubbish which are collected fortnightly. Recycling is collected in two boxes and a bag weekly and the council’s recycling rate is up to 55% with kerbside recycling at 52%.

Initial suggestions from Cornwall Council indicated that the council could move to a system where households would be supplied with a wheelie bin or seagull proof sack which would be limited to three bags of waste which would be collected fortnightly. Alternatively the council could stick to the current arrangements of households supplying their own black bags or the council could provide bags to households which would be limited to three a week.

Householders would then have separate containers for their recycling and food waste which would be collected weekly. Weekly collections could also be brought in for households with nappies.

The council has estimated that 71% of households in Cornwall would be able to use a wheelie bin with the other 29% either able to use a seagull proof sack or communal bins.

Verity Palk, team leader for waste and environmental contracts at County Hall, told councillors that having one standard form of container for waste would help in increasing recycling as well as having benefits for the collecting crews.

She also said that it could help reduce the amount of littering which occurs when bags split or are ripped open by animals, particularly seagulls.

“There are also benefits in that we can control the amount of waste that is put out,” she explained.

“And there are benefits from a health and safety perspective for collecting crews.”

Councillors asked what the benefits were of a wheelie bin over a seagull-proof sack. Verity said: “My concern with seagull sacks is that they can be left out and can blow away. You can’t clean them, if something breaks in them then you would have to replace them and there is a cost for that.”

Looking at possible recycling containers councillors were told that two main options were being considered – the current bags and a box or a trolley box system.

They were told that the current bags and box had a benefit in that they were more “flexible” with households able to request extra bags if needed.

The trolley box system, which is three stackable boxes which fit onto a wheeled trolley, were limited in their size, although they do have the benefit of being weather proof so could be stored outside.

In addition there would be a food waste container with the possibility of a small container which could be kept in the kitchen and then be emptied into a larger container which could stay outside. There are options for whether bags would be provided to line the food waste bins and whether they should be plastic bags or made of corn starch.

Verity said that one of the key things for whichever system is chosen is that residents should have clear communication about how it works and information about what the council is trying to do.

All the information from the inquiry will go back to the overview and scrutiny committee on May 24 when they will make a recommendation for what form of containers the council should use.

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