Oxfordshire £27m HWRC deal saves network of sites

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) has signed a £27-million, seven-year contract with W&S Recycling that will see its entire network of seven household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) remain open after years of uncertainty over the future of the sites.

Oxfordshire £27m HWRC deal saves network of sites
Oxfordshire County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment and Geoff Thompson, Owner of W&S Recycling
The management contract with the Dorset-based company will protect the HWRCs ‘in the medium term’, with no change to opening hours. The seven-year contract comes with an option for OCC to extend by up to three years.

W&S already manages five of the county’s HWRCs, and from 1 October this year will take over the Ardley site from Viridor, with FCC Environment continuing to manage the Dix Pit site in Stanton Harcourt in West Oxfordshire.  

Oxfordshire’s seven HWRCs receive approximately 50,000 tonnes of household residual waste and recyclables each year with an average recycling rate of around 60 per cent. Residents make over 1.25 million visits to the sites every year.

In 2015, a report recommended to the council that a number of the HWRCs be closed, reporting that the network costs £4.1 million to run; £1.2 million on management fees, with the remaining £3.7 million being spent on transport, disposal and gate fees. The report noted that all of the sites were nearing capacity and that a number of the sires would have to be expanded or replaced due to population growth.

However, all seven of the sites remained open and will continue to operate for the next seven years, following the awarding of this new contract.

Residents will be able to dispose of all household waste at the sites. The council introduced £1per-item charges for non-household waste including soil, rubble and DIY waste 15 years ago, and will increase the charge to £1.50 when the new contract commences. In a HWRC public consultation carried out in summer 2016, 91 per cent of Oxfordshire residents favoured charges for non-household waste over site closures. 

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Oxfordshire’s residents told us very clearly that their priority was to see all the HWRCs kept open when the new contract started and I am delighted that we have been able to achieve that.

“Oxfordshire has one of the best recycling rates in the country which is thanks to the hard work of our residents who collectively make a huge difference to the environment by separating out their household waste and recycling as much as they can.

“While the county council does not have a legal obligation to accept non-household waste at HWRCs, this is a popular and highly valued service among local communities and I am therefore pleased that W&S Recycling is able to continue to offer this service, with only a modest price increase. Overall, I am delighted that our HWRC service remains an accessible, affordable service.”

Geoff Thompson, Owner of W&S Recycling said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract and are looking forward to working closely with Oxfordshire County Council to increase recycling rates at sites and continue to make improvements to the HWRCs which we know residents use regularly and value.

“Many Oxfordshire residents already pre-sort their waste and recyclables before visiting their local HWRC but we will be encouraging more residents to do the same as that will help to boost the county’s excellent recycling rate even further. We also plan to invest in a new low-emission vehicle fleet which will be used to transport materials from all of Oxfordshire’s HWRCs to their end destinations.”

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