Recycling rates have nearly trebled in Ashford in the first three months since the introduction of a new Biffa recycling and refuse collection service.
Previously known as the worst council for recycling with a rate of 14% in 2011/12, interim results show that Ashford’s rate increased to just over 50% in early October 2013.
This would place Ashford around 45th in Defra’s recycling league table for 2011-12, up nearly 280 places.
The new service was rolled out on 8 July as part of Biffa’s £86m, ten-year contract with the Mid Kent Joint Waste Partnership that comprises Ashford, Maidstone and Swale borough councils.
Ashford residents recycled nearly 5,000 tonnes of dry recyclables, food waste and green waste in the first quarter.
This represents an increase of 3,500 tonnes, 250% up on the average quarter in 2012.
Biffa implemented Ashford’s first alternate week collections of a wide range of commingled dry recyclables, and of residual waste, from separate wheeled bins.
These replaced weekly refuse sack collections, along with a limited range of dry recyclables in kerbside boxes.
There are now also weekly food waste collections from kitchen caddies and an optional subscription-based garden waste collection service.
Pete Dickson, development director at Biffa Municipal, said Ashford residents used to have an unrestricted refuse service without any “physical encouragement to recycle”. Now only 25% of bin space available is for residual waste, with the rest designated for recycling.
Jessamy Blanford (pictured left), portfolio holder for culture and the environment for Ashford Borough Council, said the success “was largely due to efficient rollout by the borough council and Biffa, and also the preparedness of the residents to embrace the new system”.
She added that in the first weeks of the rollout there was so much recycling put out that Biffa were having trouble collecting it all. The amount of recycling has stabilised since then.
Blanford said: “This three-month snapshot must be seen in context as it cannot account for the seasonal nature of recycling performance. But it does show we are very much on the right track.”