Cllr Lewis Keen Looks into Waste Collection in Exeter
I recently visited our materials reclamation facility [MRF] on Exton Road to see how one of our most vital services deals with all the waste we produce. Upon arriving you quickly realise scale of the task is truly immense – every bin from every sort of premise and household imaginable is collected throughout the year and processed.
One key part of the waste we collect is recycling, which is taken to our MRF where a team of staff working alongside advanced, high-tech machinery sort through our recycling.
Starting off as mixed recycling it’s quickly sorted into groups then bundled into large cubes where it’ll eventually end up being reused for all sorts. One of the most impressive ways sorting occurs is with a computer that can identify different types of waste and then pressure jet unwanted items off the line. Thus you may not think that with all the high-tech machinery and staff working diligently every day that this would earn us money but it does. To the tune of £1.2 million a year we earn back for the Exeter taxpayer which means more and better quality public services, in addition it also means we don’t have to consider raising taxes to provide these extra services that are vital.
Whilst touring the site I learnt more about the implications and impact introducing a food waste collection will have on our current waste management infrastructure. I know that it’s not just me who is extremely excited about our manifesto promise, it’s a regular question I’m asked [even by my own friends]. Yet I didn’t realise just how big of a shake-up it will be, the biggest since the mid-nineties when we opened the MRF; this is down to the fact that it’s a significant shift from our current process of collection right through to where and how we deal with it. At the moment we’re at the early stages of delivering this promise and I for one am looking forward to being able to recycle nearly all of my waste in the near future.
After my tour I moved onto the best part of my trip. Many of you reading this may know just how much I like to get hands on being your representative. To me the best part of the job is walking around St David’s [the ward I representative] popping in for a chat about a problem (and maybe a cup of coffee & a biscuit) or meeting with local community groups and leaders. Plus, I often find for me that the best way of understanding something is by doing it so I suited and booted up and I went out on a recycling round with Andy, Guy and Richard. Although not one of the most glamourous mornings I’ve spent, I don’t normally come across maggots and foul smells, my eyes were opened to the hard work every single one of our staff puts in to making sure our city runs smoothly. It can be easy to forget exactly how much effort must go in to running our city.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and learnt a vast amount about our waste collection service. Speaking to everyone who delivers our services is a perk of the job, it can teach one so much and I’d recommend it to everyone – next time you see one of our frontline staff say, “Hi”, or make them a tea, they deserve it.
If you would like to meet with me to raise a concern or want to know more about what we do, or even make me a cup of coffee & a biscuit, don’t hesitate to get in contact.