The new recycling collection system implemented by South Oxfordshire District Council, which has led to recycling and composting rates rising to around 70%, cost less to implement than the previous system, an investigation by MRW has found.
Figures obtained through a freedom of information request reveal that the district council shaved £400,000 off the cost of implementing its new recycling service compared to the old system in the previous year.
The new scheme in South Oxfordshire featured alternate week collection (AWC) of single stream commingled dry recyclables and residual waste from wheeled bins, weekly collection of food waste and an already established subscription-based garden waste collection service.
In 2008/09 the cost of carrying out the household waste collection service in South Oxfordshire was £3.8m. However, figures for 2009/10, after the new collection service was introduced, show that the cost of carrying out the service had fallen to £3.4m.
South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for rubbish and recycling David Dodds explained the reasons for the reduction in costs under the new system.
“The new system operates with a single pass each week rather than two vehicles,” said Dodds. “This leads to greater cost savings as there is only one vehicle going out each week. One week it will collect food waste and recyclables and the following week it will collect food waste and residual waste.”
Prior to implementing the new collection system, recycling rates for South Oxfordshire in 2008/09 stood at 44%. Since the introduction of the new system they have been around 70%.
Dodds said: “The recycling rate has gone up significantly and at the same time, as you might expect, the residual waste has gone down considerably.”
This is backed-up by data obtained through the freedom of information request which gives the amount paid in landfill tax by Oxfordshire County Council, the disposal authority for South Oxfordshire.
Although the landfill tax figures for Oxfordshire County Council include all five districts, they are still indicative of increased recycling rates in the region.
In 2008/09 landfill tax cost the county council £896,099.84 whereas in 2009/10 it cost substantially less, £639,483.60.
Dodds said: “We have turned things around very, very quickly. We were a good recycler anyway but the most recent figures have been fantastic. It just goes to show, if you can do this without incentivising people, then why bother with it. We have shown you can do it without the need for a reward scheme.”
Verdant Group, part of Greenstar UK, won a contract to deliver the new system to both South Oxfordshire and the neighbouring Vale of White Horse District Council. The Vale of White Horse scheme is to be rolled out later this year.