New three-weekly service in Devon sees immediate recycling increase

Recycling rates in East Devon have immediately increased by as much as 15 per cent following the introduction of a three-weekly bin collection, results from the council suggest.  

According to provisional findings from two collection cycles (six weeks), residents in Exmouth are recycling nearly 60 per cent of their weekly household waste, an increase from the previous rate of 44 per cent. In addition, the amount of rubbish being thrown away in residual waste bins decreased from 56 per cent to 41 per cent.

These short-term results follow the decision of East Devon Council to reduce residual waste collections to once every three weeks, after a successful trial carried out last year.

The trial, which involved incorporating cardboard and mixed plastics and small electrical items into recycling, while reducing residual collections, involved 1,800 homes across the Feniton and Exmouth areas, with results showing the recycling rate rises from 41 per cent to 58 per cent in Feniton, and from 37 per cent to 55 per cent in Exmouth.

New three-weekly service in Devon sees immediate recycling increaseAccording to the council’s StreetScene team, much of the increase consisted of the additional cardboard accepted by the collections. Residual waste sent for disposal decreased on average by 18 per cent in Feniton and 22 per cent in Exmouth.

Following the success of the trial, the council awarded a new, seven-year collection contract, worth over £30 million, to waste management company SUEZ. Now, around 17,000 households in Exmouth are taking part in the new service, which will be rolled out completely across the district of 140,000 residents later this year.  

According to the council, in the first six weeks of the new scheme there has been an increase of more than 24,000 tonnes of recycling collected by SUEZ, making a total of 90,000 tonnes.

East Devon is not the first local authority to benefit from three-weekly collections, implemented to compel residents to make better use of their recycling bins and save disposal costs on recyclable material being treated as residual waste.

Since 2015, Bury council’s move to a three-weekly collection has raised the recycling rate by six per cent within two months, according to its statistics, while Rochdale has increased its rate by seven points in the year since bringing in a three-weekly collection.

Many councils across the UK, with particular concentrations in Greater Manchester and Wales, are making the decision to reduce residual waste collections, and East Devon’s neighbouring councils in the Somerset Waste Partnership have agreed to implement a new system from this autumn that incorporates three-weekly residual collections into an expanded recycling service.

Residents have ‘embraced the new service’

Councillor Paul Divani said: “The residents of Exmouth have really embraced the new service in such a short time and we are very grateful to them. We have worked hard prior to the introduction of the service to ensure that households had all the information they needed to make the new scheme work and this has certainly paid off when you look at the results.

“We are now turning our attention to rolling out the service to the rest of East Devon and we will be contacting households by post over the coming weeks to keep them informed of the changes.

“We have changed the service for the better because our residents have been asking us to help them recycle more and waste less for some time now. Environmentally, the service fits the bill too as one of our key council priorities is to protect the beautiful area where we live.”

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