Trial of 3-weekly bin collections in Torbay due next year

A trial of three-weekly household bin collections has come a step closer in Torbay.

Councillors heard the trial would be likely to start in February involving around 3,000 properties, but the location had not yet been chosen.

The change is designed to save money, reduce carbon output and increase the local recycling rate, which is lagging behind other parts of Devon.

The currently weekly pick-ups of recycling and food waste would carry on.

The trial would involve the rest of a household’s rubbish put out in bags and bins, known as ‘residual waste’.

Some areas such as town centres are not expected to be suitable for the change in collections from fortnightly to every three weeks.

The trial is part of a proposed new waste strategy which was approved for consultation by Torbay Council’s Cabinet, made up of Liberal Democrats and Independents, on Tuesday night.

The meeting heard that the Conservative group would probably oppose three-weekly collections, but they would wait for the outcome of the consultation.

That is due to take place from Monday, September 28, to Friday. November 6.

Cabinet member Mike Morey said: “We all know that there is a climate emergency, and radical action needs to be taken to reduce our carbon footprint and increase the recycling rate.”

Councillors heard East Devon had introduced three-weekly collections in 2017 and there was a trial under way in West Devon.

The recycling rate in East Devon went up from 46 per cent to just over 60 per cent last year, compared to the current 42 per cent in Torbay.

Torbay’s residual household waste is sent to the energy from waste incinerator plant at Plymouth.

Councillors heard an increase in recycling to 50 per cent would see a reduction of 5,000 tonnes of waste sent to Plymouth, resulting in a saving of £475,000 a year.

Cllr Cordelia Law backed the consultation plan and said: “Gone are the days when we dumped everything in the bin and it went to landfill.”

Ian Hartley, the council’s waste and natural environment manager, said householders on the trial would be supported with help to overcome any problems, including advice on what could be recycled.

He said the same amount of material would be collected overall, just in a different way.

In response to questions, he said problems with rats and maggots could be avoided by putting food waste out for weekly collection.

Households generating too much waste for a single bin could be allowed a second, but they would first have to prove they were recycling as much as possible.

Mr Hartley said people on the East Devon trial were against the scheme at first, but were strong supporters by the end.

Cabinet member Swithin Long said there may be areas not suitable for a three-weekly collection, such as in town centres.

He said: “It is not going to apply everywhere, but we do need to take action for the sake of our planet.”

Conservative councillor Chris Lewis said his group was minded to oppose three-weekly collections, but would wait for the outcome of the consultation.

He said 74.5 per cent of respondents were against the proposal in budget consultation earlier this year, and argued the recycling rate could be boosted by an education campaign.

He said: “You don’t have to go down the three-weekly collection route, you can do it by educating the public.”

Other proposals in the strategy include:

  • an opt-in chargeable kerbside garden waste service – backed by more than half the replies in a budget consultation;
  • charging for building materials at the recycling centre – for example plasterboard, rubble and asbestos – bringing Torbay into line with Devon;
  • developing a program of activities to promote recycling across Torbay.

Devon Live – Devon News