Blaenau Gwent looks to go three-weekly

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s (BGCBC) Environment Committee is recommending that the council move to a three-weekly residual waste collection service and switch to a weekly kerbside-sort recycling service to increase recycling rates and achieve compliance with the Waste Regulations.

At a meeting last Thursday (31 July), the committee approved proposals to introduce a weekly kerbside-sort collection service ‘by Spring/Summer 2015’ alongside a three-weekly residual waste collection (utilising the existing 240-litre bins) in the hopes of boosting recycling rates by around 10 per cent.

The move comes after the committee outlined that in order to ‘comply with future legislation and provide a long-term sustainable kerbside collection service, the authority must introduce changes to waste services’.

It identified that by switching to the three-weekly, kerbside sort services, the council will ‘follow the Welsh Government Collection Blueprint’ and comply with the Waste Regulations’ requirement that by 1 January 2015, all local authorities have separate collections of paper, plastic, metal and glass (unless it is not necessary to provide high quality recyclates; or unless it is not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP)).

Service details

Currently, BGCBC householders have weekly collections of recyclates (a blue bag for glass, metal, and plastic; a clear bag for paper and cardboard; and a green caddy for food waste), alongside fortnightly collections of residual waste in 240-litre wheelie bins.

However, if BGCBC’s Executive approves the recommendations in September, by March 2016, the 240-litre residual waste bin will be collected once every three weeks and all residents will have recycling boxes (instead of recycling bags) for their dry recyclates, which would be collected once a week along with food waste (collected in the same caddy).

All of the sorting will be done by operatives at the kerbside into vehicles which have separate compartments for different waste streams.

It is not yet know which boxes or vehicles will be used for this service, but as BGCBC visited Conwy County Borough Council to see how the kerbside-sort service is delivered there, it could be assumed that Blaenau Gwent could also choose to use the Romaquip Kerb-sort vehicle.

Service changes could generate income by 2016

The service change would reportedly cost the council between £3.8 million and £4.3 million, with the majority (£2 million) coming from the Welsh Government’s Collaborative Change Programme and the remainder from prudential borrowing against an annual saving in the revenue budget (approximately £370,000 a year for seven years).

The committee estimates that by using the new service, the council could not only save money (as they would not need to be providing residents with recycling bags, for example) but also generate ‘a potential income of between £150,000 and £250,000 per year’ from 2016 from the sale of recyclable materials and efficiencies in the service.

A spokesperson for BGCBC said: “On Thursday 31st July, a report was presented by the task and finishing group to scrutiny members in order to propose changes to the waste and recycling service collections. 

“The report proposed 3 options, of which scrutiny recommended that the next executive meeting approve option 2 from the business plan. The proposed option 2 outlines that residents will keep their existing 240 litre wheeled bins, and residual waste will be collected every 3 weeks. Recycling and food waste will continue to be collected on a weekly basis, with additional items collected as part of the recycling such as batteries, small electrical items and textiles.” 

Several other councils have already switched to three-weekly collections of residual waste, such as Scotland’s Falkirk Council, which started three-weekly collections in April, while Gwyndedd Council in Wales and Bury Council in England will be implementing a similar collection service in October.

Find out more about the requirement for local authorities in England and Wales to introduce separate recycling collections by 2015.