Torfaen rejects monthly waste collection proposals

Torfaen County Borough Council has rejected proposals to move to monthly waste collections, instead opting to continue with fortnightly collections, but in smaller waste bins.

In March 2014, the council announced that it was reviewing its waste strategy in a bid to try and reduce the amount of waste created and increase local recycling levels so as to meet Welsh Government’s targets. The council currently recycles 52 per cent of waste, but will need to reach 58 per cent in 2015/16, rising to 70 per cent by 2025.

It then put out three options for consultation in August:

Maintaining a fortnightly collection with a smaller (140 litres) black wheelie bin

This option would reportedly result in an annual saving of £78,000, although during the first year there would be an additional cost to the council of £754,000 to purchase the new smaller bins and promote the new service. This option would provide the council with the least amount of savings.

Limiting fortnightly collections of residual waste to two refuse bags per household

The most lucrative of the three options, the council estimated that this would result in an annual saving of £138,000, with an initial cost to the council of £38,000 to cover promotional activities

Moving to a monthly collection using the existing 240-litre black wheelie bin

This change would result in an annual saving of £56,000, and would cost the council £57,000 to cover promotional activities.

All three options had allowances for the collection of additional waste at Christmas and New Year, and a dedicated collection for nappies will be available for those who need it.

Recycling collections, which include a food waste service, would continue to operate as normal.

Consultation outcome

Of the 1482 responses received by the council, the vast majority (75 per cent) expressed a preference for keeping fortnightly collections and moving to a smaller bin (seven per cent wished to move to a bag collection, while 13 per cent wanted to move to monthly collections. Six per cent of people said that none of the options were preferable).

As such, at a meeting on Tuesday (21 October), the council agreed to proceed with ‘option a’, despite it providing the council with the least amount of savings.

Councillor John Cunningham, executive member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Reducing the amount of general waste that is collected at the kerbside is a proven way of increasing recycling rates and we need more people to use the kerbside recycling facilities if we are to meet Welsh Government’s targets.

“The public have told us that of the three options we consulted on, smaller bins, collected fortnightly, are their preferred option. While this doesn’t represent the most cost efficient option for the council, councillors have listened to what the public has to say.

“We are confident that under this new system we will meet our recycling targets and avoid the huge fines that we are faced with if we don’t.”

New system to be rolled out next year

Under the new system, which is expected to be implemented ‘during 2015’, medical collections and assisted collections will continue as normal, a fortnightly collection of nappies will be available for those who need it, and extra collections will be provided at key times of the year such as Christmas.

Families of six or more will continue to be able to request a review of their circumstances to see if they qualify for additional capacity.

Councillors also voted for an amendment to the proposals and moved to introduce liners for food waste caddies. The estimated net cost to provide liners is an additional £26,000 per year and the council said it will ‘seek external sources of funding’ to cover these costs. It is expected that liners would be introduced at the same time at the smaller bins.

Several Welsh councils have already implemented similar changes to residual waste collections to help boost recycling rates, with Monmouthshire and Swansea councils both restricting the amount of residual waste permitted for collection.

Find out more about the results of the waste strategy consultation.

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