One of the worst performing councils in England is hoping that a new waste strategy will boost its recycling rate.
A report for Plymouth Council’s place and corporate overview scrutiny committee on 5 October suggests switching to alternate weekly collections (AWCs).
About three-quarters of English councils provide AWCs, and the report says the change could boost Plymouth’s rate by up to nine percentage points from the present 32.6%.
An alternative method being suggested is to halve the volume of its residual waste bins from 240 to 120 litres, which could increase the rate by 3%.
The fortnightly collections plans are more attractive financially. The report expects the change to save the council £750,000 a year, with £500,000 implementation costs. The plan for smaller bins would cost £2m to implement and save £166,000.
The report says: “The council needs to modernise services to reduce the overall cost of waste collection and disposal; to aspire to upgrade current practices to match the best nationally; and to prepare for the projected growth in the population.
“Many residents already engage in recycling but there is plenty of scope to increase this with a concerted, well-planned programme of engagement and awareness raising, using the shift to AWC as a catalyst.
“The city has invested in state-of-the-art recycling facilities that are currently under-utilised, and an extremely efficient energy-from-waste plant that means only around 0.01% of residual waste ends up in landfill.”
Plymouth’s household recycling rate of 32.6% has remained fairly static since 2007-8. Its latest Plymouth Plan sets a 50% recycling target by 2034. The UK overall is currently required by the EU to reach the same target by 2020.
Unlike Scottish and Welsh local authorities, English councils do not have individual recycling targets.
The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee recently told MRW that such targets could help English councils prioritise increased recycling but said funding would be needed for them to implement new schemes.