Norfolk County Council is looking to cut back on its household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in a bid to save a budget shortfall of £280,000.
Councillors have been asked to approve the closure of one centre in 2016 and reduce the hours of operation across the remaining 19. Some centres would also be relocated.
But the council is also considering eventually reducing the network to 13 centres, a move that could save an estimated £700,000 a year. This option requires investment of between £9m and £12m and “would take some time to deliver”, according to the council.
The service reform is in response to forecast population growth and “inadequacies” at some sites.
The proposals, to be considered by the council’s Environment, Development and Transport Committee today (18 September), include a new paid-for trade waste scheme for small businesses at selected recycling centres.
The council also wants to increase sales through its reuse shops set up at some HWRCs. Recent legislation prevents local authorities from charging residents to deposit household waste at recycling centres.
Committee chairman Toby Coke said: “We have made the recycling service more efficient, but we need to bridge the remaining £280,000 budget gap.
“This package of measures is designed to affect far fewer residents than the previous proposals, and includes a new service offering small businesses an affordable way to recycle their waste.
“Even if we agree to make these changes, we still need to consider what type of recycling network we run in the future.
“The proposals for fewer, larger, modern sites are worthy of serious and dispassionate consideration, particularly if such a system can improve our recycling performance and deliver big savings for council tax payers.”
The amount of waste collected at Norfolk’s HWRCs has been steadily climbing during the past two years. It is thought an economic recovery and an increase in house building is driving this rise.