News and views from Paul Bull, the Labour and Co-operative Councillor for the St THOMAS Ward of Exeter City Council. Promoted by Dom Collins on behalf of Paul Bull, both of 26b, Clifton Hill, Exeter, EX1 2DJ.
Some Councils sort recycling at the kerbside. Or rather, the company they use to collect their recycling sorts it at the kerbside. Residents in those districts may have as many as five bins for different recycling: one for plastic; one for glass; one for paper; one for card; one for food.
Now, the keen recyclers among you may wonder, ‘Why don’t Exeter do that? Why not have residents sort more recycling themselves?’ Well, Exeter City Council know the city isn’t made up of only keen recyclers, therefore they recognise the need to make it easy for everyone to recycle.
All the mixed recycling is taken into the plant and sorted it there before selling it for the best prices, generating over £1m per year for essential public services in the city.
If the Councilcollected glass in the green bin, it would get crushed and contaminate the rest of the recycling. It would also damage the equipment and pose a hazard to the workers in the MRF. There is also an economic benefit to not collecting it from home: ECC would have to pay people to take mixed glass away, whereas they pay ECC for colour-sorted glass from banks.
Because the City Council run all of our waste collection services in house, they can sort and sell materials themselves for the best prices. Other district authorities who don’t operate like this will send it to third-parties who will sort it for them; those companies will pay the authority a certain amount for the material, but will make more money by selling the materials themselves to reprocessors (the companies that turn it into new products).
In Exeter we can extract the most valuable material before sending the smaller, less valuable stuff off for sorting by third parties – material that still counts towards the city’s recycling rate. This means ECC are extracting the maximum value from your recycling, to the benefit of your city.
For more news and info on recycling in exeter (and some fun), follow Denis the Dustcart!
MISSED BIN? Report it by midnight of the following working day at exeter.gov.uk/missedbin for an immediate answer, direct from the crew’s in-cab computer! Please note: we can only return for bins that were reported during this time and were missed due to crew error.
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.
We’re good recyclers here in Exeter. Better than the stats would suggest.
As such good recyclers, you will be aware, naturally, that the EU has set a target as part of the Waste Framework Directive of achieving a 50% recycling average across EC countries by 2020, and that any country not seen to have done its bit to make this happen will be fined. Yes? …No? Well, it’s true.
Accordingly, the UK government has dictated that the UK’s average recycling rate must hit 50% by the time Big Ben chimes in 2020.
In 2014, the UK had an average recycling rate of 44.9% – up from 40.4% in 2010 [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UK Statistics on Waste, 15 December 2015].
Wales’ recycling rate shot up by nearly 11% in this period.
Scotland climbed more than 8%.
Northern Ireland scrambled up a tad shy of 6%…
…and bringing up the rear, perspiring, panting: England, which didn’t even make it 4% further up the mountain in five years. This is all the less impressive considering more than half of it came in the first year (2010-11).
So, what about Exeter?
Well, it’s important to note that this isn’t just a straight fight between the green and the grey bins. Taking into account home healthcare waste, street sweeping and litter bins, recycling banks, brown bins, and everything that passes through the recycling centres, Exeter’s residents send on average an ant’s hair under 49% of their waste for recycling.
But here’s where we can all be rather proud: Exeter’s average household waste production (kg per household) last year put us among the twenty lowest districts in the UK. Top 20! Or is that bottom 20? Either way…high five!
Unlike most other councils, here in Exeter we operate our own MRF and run all our collections in-house rather than contracting them out to a private company. This means we can sort all the recycling ourselves and sell it for the best prices, saving over £1million of public money per year.
The way we collect the recycling – in big trucks that compact all the waste – allows us to collect more recycling mixed together (‘comingled’) in one big load. We take all types of plastic packaging, for example, whereas many other councils will only take bottles.
There is definitely scope for improving our recycling rate, though. Nearly half the contents of the average grey bin in Exeter could have been recycled. We could be saving a further £500K!
We know that you dedicated recyclers try to do your bit. This is about us all encouraging more people to get into the recycling habit properly. We paragons of recycling can be the motivators here. Let’s do it.
The meeting Scrutiny Committee: Community held on 01 March 2016 considered the report of the Assistant Director Environment.
Appendix 1 provided the detail of the delivery programme for the year ahead.
Appendix 1: Recycling Team Action Plan 2016/17
Exeter’s recycling rate has plateaued at around 34% over recent years, which is well below the current UK average of 44%. The reasons for Exeter’s low recycling rate relative to the rest of the UK include:
– Lack of a separate food waste collection suppresses our recycling rate by 8 percentage points
– The nature of Exeter’s urban housing stock means there is less garden waste available for separate collection
– For single-tier district councils such as Exeter, the tonnage of waste managed at Civic Amenity Recycling Centres does not count towards the recycling rate.
– Recycling education and awareness efforts have not increased in recent years. The Council’s recycling team has reduced from six to three FTEs and in 2014 and 2015 these resources were partially diverted to the reorganisation of waste collection rounds. This had little impact on recycling rates but has ‘future proofed’ the Waste Operations service by enabling us to accommodate the projected growth in household numbers for the next three years with existing resources
It is encouraging that in 2014/15, Exeter ranked 20th lowest out of 229 English local authorities for the total amount of waste produced per head, at 304kg per year (former BVPI184a). This indicates that we have been successful in minimising the amount of waste produced in the first place, which ranks above recycling in the waste hierarchy (“reduce-reuse-recycle”). It vindicates policies such as alternate weekly recycling /rubbish collections, charging for the collection of garden waste and applying a ‘no side waste’ policy alongside provision of appropriately-sized rubbish containers.
Measures to taken to implement the waste hierarchy since 2014:
– Extended fortnightly rubbish collections to 92% of the city. We have retained weekly rubbish collections only where lack of physical space makes this essential
– Extended the ‘no side waste’ policy to include excess waste placed on top of rubbish bins
– Revised the allocation of rubbish bin size so that the majority of Exeter residents are now provided with 140 or 180 litres’ capacity instead of 240
– Exeter’s residual waste is now treated at the Energy from Waste plant in Marsh Barton, meaning that none of the city’s waste goes to landfill
– Established the regular use of web-based communications to promote recycling (gov delivery newsletter, Twitter)
– Installed mini-bottle banks at six new sites in areas of high population density
– Liaison with social housing, property managers and the University to improve communication, correct provision of accessible containers and recycling yield, however there is scope for increased and more targeted work in these areas.
Grey Bin Analysis 2013
The 2012 bin audit conducted by Jacobs on behalf of Devon County Council examined the contents of the average Exeter grey bin and found that over a quarter of this material could have been recycled using existing schemes, and a further 35% is food waste.
The report showed that on average 35% of the weight of rubbish bins comprises kitchen organics. It is not currently financially viable to introduce a food waste collection service, but even where there is one, it does not always result in high householder engagement and can increase waste arisings rather than focusing on the individual, regional and global benefits of food waste reduction. ECC promotes food waste reduction by endorsing WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign and Exeter Food Hub; and by selling reduced price composters for uncooked kitchen waste. The methods for reducing food waste include better storage to make food last longer, better menu planning to reduce unused items going to waste and using up leftovers. The environmental benefit of food waste reduction is a direct reduction in the emissions released by decaying stored or composted food. The financial implications are a saving on Devon County Council’s disposal costs, which can benefit other services in Devon – and there can also be financial benefits to the individual householder in terms shopping and using food more efficiently. A decrease in food put in the rubbish bin should also increase the recycling rate for Exeter.
Exeter is among the few Waste Collection Authorities to collect all household plastics – including pots, tubs, trays and film, and items labelled “cannot be recycled”. In spite of this, the bin analysis showed an average of 11% of the rubbish weight being plastic. The results on the percentage of different types of plastics in both the rubbish and recycling bins showed that of all the plastic thrown away we captured 68% HDPE bottles and 73% other plastic bottles for recycling, but only 13% film and 38% non-bottle plastic packaging. This would suggest that people are recycling plastic bottles but disposing of other plastics. This is also reflected in anecdotal evidence from people we spoke to at community events and student door knocking during Fresher’s Week. Even the more environmentally aware residents seem to be missing the “all plastics” message. A series of campaigns to raise awareness, particularly in low performance areas, should help to resolve this and have a positive effect on the recycling rate. We have already set up a display at the Customer Services centre of the Civic Centre, attached to a GovDelivery promotional hessian bags giveaway for the introduction of the bag tax.
One of the more confusing outcomes from the analysis was the low capture rate for steel (46%) and aluminium (30%) cans. Aluminium is one of the highest priced commodities that Exeter extracts and sells at the Material Reclamation Facility. In spite of cans and tins being traditionally recyclable, compared to the relatively recent plastics market, 70% of the aluminium cans thrown away by Exeter residents end up being sent to the Energy Recovery Facility for incineration. Given the high capture rates for pulpables and plastic bottles, this seems illogical. One reason is that cans are more likely to be disposed of “on the go” and so end up as litter or in street bins, which are weak areas in terms of extracting recyclables in Exeter. Attempts to introduce on-street recycling have not proved successful in the past, but the recycling bins put in place were not particularly easy to identify. Most major cities and tourist towns have on-street recycling.
The capture rate for pulpables is above the UK average at 86% for paper and 80% for card, and constituting only 9% of the rubbish bin contents. This demonstrates good recycling behaviour, thus successful communications of the pulpables message. Exeter has a reputation for delivering high grade paper for reprocessing. The exception is around Christmas when there is a high volume of metallic and glittery paper. This should be considered with Christmas specific communications.
Another indicator for good recycling behaviour is that only 4% of the rubbish weight is glass. This indicated that, even though we do not provide a kerbside collection service for glass, Exeter citizens are using the glass banks well. This is particularly important given the current crash in the market value for glass. Most other authorities who outsource the management of their recycling collections are now paying to send their mixed glass for reprocessing; because we are able to colour-separate using the bring banks, we can still generate revenue from selling some of the glass. As Exeter’s population is growing we are looking into providing new glass recycling sites. We have already secured a site on Prince of Wales Road to target students. Placing new sites is a slow process as there are several sources of permission that need to be agreed.
Kerbside Recycling Analysis
Earlier in the year the Senior Recycling Officer analysed typical weight comparisons of refuse and recycling collected by crews. We also looked at areas with low presentation of recycling bins and high presentation of contaminated recycling. This information gives us an idea of the Low Performing Areas (LPAs) for recycling in the city. It also gives us some idea about what are the behaviours in each area that lead to not capturing recycling. All this information can help to inform our targeted campaigns to increase recycling.
The following chart summarises the findings:
We have a high number of shared bin stores in Exeter. These are statistically difficult to manage in terms of ensuring everyone that uses them recycles. We get a high number of reports of contamination as it only takes one person in the shared scheme to undo the good work of others. Particular thought needs to be given in terms of the hows and whys of recycling as well as deterrents or rewards to affect behavioural change.
‘Low recycling’ is defined as less than 20%, and ‘Low-medium’ as less than 30%. These figures are significantly lower than Exeter’s published recycling rate, which also includes material collected on bring bank, garden waste and community group schemes.
Barriers to recycling
The Recycling Action Plan 2016/17 aims to address the known barriers to recycling:
– Infrastucture: having access to a recycling service, and having the correct containers
– Knowledge: being aware of what and how to recycle, so that residents do not take the default option of putting waste into the grey bin
– Household behaviour and organisation issues
– Attitude and motivation: people are more likely to engage with recycling if their efforts are recognised and the benefits of recycling are made clear. In particular, people wish to know what happens to the material they sent for recycling
Communication Opportunities GovDelivery
Recycling has over 1,500 subscribers. We have started sending regular targeted messages to reinforce our scheme. Mails to date include: a general introduction, plastics recycling promotion, food reduction message and Christmas messages.
The recycling department now has an ipad. The intention is to open social media accounts and to respond to recycling and waste related messages on the ECC accounts. This will also offer an opportunity to initiate targeted messages aimed at different target groups, without the restrictions of the ECC sites. We can still send messages out from ECC sites via the Communications department. This is pending approval of ECC Comms dept.
Three RCVs and the bin delivery truck are awaiting livery. The initial idea was to target the habit of putting recyclables in the rubbish bins. After some delays in producing designs (due to accessing technology and mixed messages in terms of feedback for the design), the current concept is very similar to what is already in place, with clearer messages. The focus will be on the three target materials plastics, metals and food reduction for the RCVs. The bin delivery van accesses more of the city so a general “what’s in the green bin” message will go on this.
Some of the signs at community recycling points have out of date information and would benefit from matching the concepts developed in the livery messages. There is also a banner at the Pinhoe Sainsbury’s site that is available for us to use. These will be reaching people visiting the bring banks and thus people who are already pro-recycling. A more detailed message about the stats, process and consequences of recycling will be designed for these, including the environmental and economic aspects.
Calendars, Leaflets and Recycling Guide
These need to portray clear, simple and targeted messages about waste policies, services and what can be recycled in Exeter.
A double-page spread has been reserved for the next four issues of the Citizen. The Spring 2016 edition will focus on clearing up the common misunderstandings about what can and cannot go in the green bin, addressing the knowledge barriers that many residents face.
Insight magazine, Landlord Forum and local ward-based newsletter
These can be used to target local issues or promotions as well as city wide messages.
We have created a general priorities comms display which is stored at the Civic Centre reception to present when no other campaigns are occupying the space they have there.
Promote a ‘Three Rs Communications Campaign’ competition for schools. A community outreach excercise, judged by the Council, with prizes for the winning school funded by the remaining funds from the Green Team programme 2015.
Minutes of Scrutiny Committee: Community held on 01 March 2016 note:
Councillor Owen spoke on this item having given notice under Standing Order No. 44.
The Assistant Director Environment presented the report setting out the 2016/17 Recycling Plan for support and approval.
Members noted that, although the re-cycling rates could be improved, actual landfill rates were low and that the City Council was within the 20 lowest of 200 authorities in total waste production.
Both the Portfolio Holder for Health and Place and the Assistant Director Environment confirmed that the Citizen was a valuable tool in educating and informing the public in waste reduction techniques and that continued community engagement was vital to encourage further re-cycling. It was noted that an A5 pamphlet had recently been distributed to community outlets such as doctor’s surgeries.
A report on the feasibility of kerb side collections of glass had previously been reported to this Committee. As the fraction of glass remaining in black bags was only 4%, this indicated that the network of bottle banks in the City were well used, achieving similar rates of glass recycling to those districts with a kerb-side glass collection. Therefore the cost and benefit of introducing a kerb-side glass collection service was unlikely to be favourable.
In answer to a question about food waste, the Assistant Director Environment explained that food waste was a large fraction of the residual (black bin) waste stream in Exeter, at around 35% of the total content. This was the main reason why Exeter’s recycling rate appeared much lower than those local authorities with a food waste collection. However, the cost of providing a food waste collection service from every household would be significant, but it would make substantial savings in the disposal cost of that food waste, as it would be processed more cheaply through anaerobic digesters rather than burnt at the Energy from Waste Plant. Officers would continue to explore the feasibility of introducing such a collection service in association with the Disposal Authority (Devon County Council), and in particular examine how the potential savings in disposal costs could be used to help fund such a service.
In the absence of a food waste collection service the Council would need to rely on changing householders’ behaviour through education and a community engagement programmes, in order to encourage people to buy perishable foods more carefully, to store them appropriately, and re-use leftovers for another meal etc. People could also be encouraged to compost more food waste, either individually or as part of a community project.
Scrutiny Committee Community supported the Recycling Plan for 2016 and requested its approval by Executive and Council.
The Exeter Board, at its meeting of 31 January 2013, considered the following report
Recycling Rates in the City
Joint Report of the Assistant Director – Environment (Exeter City Council) and the Head of Capital Development and Waste Management (Devon County Council)
Please note that the following recommendation is subject to consideration and determination by the Committee before taking effect.
Recommendation: It is recommended that Members note the content of the report, acknowledge the progress made to date on recycling within the city and in particular note the relatively low waste produced per head of population and support the proposed future actions.
1. Purpose of the Report and Executive Summary
This report for the Exeter Board reviews recycling rates in Exeter, including:
– the general policy on recycling and composting;
– comparison with other Devon authorities and other councils in Exeter’s benchmarking group;
– reasons for differences in performance; and
– actions to address this.
Exeter performs well in having low overall waste arising in comparison with other authorities. It also performs highly in the percentage of waste sent for ‘dry’ recycling (materials such as plastic, paper, card, metal and glass).
Exeter’s overall rate of waste recycled and composted is 36% (or 47% if the performance of the Recycling Centres is included). Although this is low compared to other Councils in Devon and in Exeter’s benchmarking group, this is largely due to Exeter not having a separate food waste collection, its policy of charging for garden waste collection in preference to a free collection service and the urban nature of the city. These factors combine to reduce the availability of organic waste that is collected.
Current actions to improve Exeter’s recycling performance will focus on increasing participation in the existing schemes and reducing contamination of the materials collected for recycling. The Council will also consider the merits of introducing a separate collection of food waste if it becomes cost-effective to do so, but it currently relies upon placing an emphasis on food waste minimisation and home-composting
In 2011/12 36,085 tonnes of household waste was collected by Exeter City Council with a further 12,248 tonnes managed through the Recycling Centres. Of the waste collected by Exeter City 2,735 tonnes were garden waste, 10,326 tonnes were ‘dry’ recyclables and 23,023 tonnes were residual waste. Of the waste managed at the Recycling Centres, 9,696 tonnes were recycled.
Exeter City Council is the Waste Collection Authority (WCA) for Exeter and has responsibility to arrange and manage recycling and composting programmes for household waste collected in Exeter. The avoided disposal cost of material diverted from landfill by or through the recycling activities of the City Council is claimed as a recycling credit from Devon County Council (DCC) as the Waste Disposal Authority (WDA). Item 8
During 2011/12 just over £574,000 was claimed from the WDA for recycling of materials carried out directly by the City Council. This income was used to support the costs of recycling and waste activities. A further £45,500 was claimed by the voluntary groups for the material they collected, which adds to the total recycled in Exeter. Sales of materials from the Material Reclamation Facility and bring banks raised approximately £965,000; this was despite the continuing economic down-turn which has affected consumer purchasing and reduced the amount of packaging available for recycling.
The County Council as WDA operates two Recycling Centres within the city boundaries, these being Exton Road and Pinbrook Road. The £3.5 million new site at Pinbrook Road was opened in June 2011 and serves the eastern part of the city and surrounding hinterland, with Exton Road serving the western part of the city. Exton Road was expanded and refurbished in 2011. These two sites managed 12,250 tonnes of waste in 2011/12, of which 80% was recycled.
Exeter’s policy is to maximise the quantity and quality of dry recycling collected co-mingled at the kerbside and to process it through the Council’s MRF. This includes: paper, card, steel and aluminium cans, aerosols, and all types of household plastic containers, (bottles, food trays, wraps and bags).
Glass is collected via an extensive system of bring banks as the MRF is not designed to process it mixed with other materials. Additional bring banks for textiles, books/CDs, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, batteries and shoes are provided and serviced by charities and other organisations.
The majority of the city has alternate weekly collections of dry recycling and refuse in 240 litre wheeled bins. The inner city, (5,000 properties) have weekly collections of refuse in black bags and fortnightly collections of recycling in clear plastic bags. Large households have extra refuse allowance.
Garden waste is collected by a subscription-only service in either a 240 litre wheeled bin or a bio-degradable sack. The number of households subscribing to the service has increased steadily, reaching 7,151 in 2011/12. Charging for garden waste has two benefits: the service is paid for only by the people who use it, and it avoids the collection of green waste that can otherwise be dealt with by home composting or taken to a recycling centre.
There is currently no separate collection of food waste in Exeter. This is discussed more fully in Section 4.
Home composting is encouraged through the promotion of composting bins and wormeries at cost price.
There is a comprehensive range of recycling available at the two recycling centres which has been extended with the introduction of mattresses, carpets and hard plastics as a result of the new contract with SITA that started in May 2012.
Exeter City Council operates a successful trade waste recycling collection from approximately 500 customers. About 400 tonnes of good quality recycling is collected per annum (this is not counted in Exeter’s household recycling rate).
4. Recycling Rate and Waste Arisings
Exeter is maintaining a steady recycling rate. Although the continuing downturn in the economy and the consequent reduction in consumption produced fewer materials to collect and process, the recycling rate is maintained as there is also a corresponding reduction of waste sent to landfill.
Table 1 05/6
ECC recycling & composting rate %
*From Waste Data Flow – this varies slightly from the DAWWRC statistics due to different accounting systems for the MRF stockpile.
When compared against similar-size local authorities in the Exeter comparator bench marking group (Graphs 1 & 2, Appendix I), it appears that the relatively high dry recycling rate reflects the efficiency of the co-mingled collection in wheeled bins and the wide variety of materials collected. Exeter also has a high dry recycling rate compared to most other Devon districts (Graph 3).
The low composting percentage is a direct result of Exeter’s policy on charging for garden waste collection, rather than offering a free service for all. The composting rate is also affected by the amount of leaves that are collected during the year, as this is included in the composting total – some rural districts collect significantly more than others.
However, when the two indices are combined, this results in a low overall recycling rate when compared with the rest of Devon (Graph 4). It is clear that the main difference between the districts is due to the organic collections, with garden waste in particular adding large tonnages to the overall recycling rate. (Graph 5). Exeter is the only district that does not collect food waste, thus further reducing the tonnage collected for composting/digestion and increasing the differences in the combined recycling rate.
The following excerpt from the DAWWRC 2011- 12 report shows that ‘whilst Waste Collection Authorities’ (WCA) recycling rates in isolation indicate the public’s use of WCA facilities such as kerbside schemes or recycling banks, some residents use a combination of WCA schemes and recycling centres to deal with their household waste. Table 2 compares ‘WCA activity only’ with the combined efforts of ‘WCA services and Recycling Centres’. This table shows a lesser variance between authorities in overall rates suggesting that household participation is broadly in line for all authorities. This data illustrates a narrower range of between 47.1% and 63.2%.
It can be seen from the above graph that when the total level of recycling within the city is considered regardless of facilities which are used (bring bank, kerbside or recycling centre), Exeter recycled 47% in 2011/12. This compares more favourably with some other Districts within Devon.
There are currently no local recycling targets but the UK as a whole is committed to achieving a 50% recycling rate by 2020 as set out in the EU revised Waste Framework Directive 2010. In addition the Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Devon Review sets targets of 60% by 2015 and 65% by 2025.
Exeter’s contribution to achieving this is a local aspiration target of 39% by 2014/15 (Table 3 below).
The 2011/12 target was missed by 0.8% and it is unlikely that the 2012/13 target will be achieved based on results to date this year. As outlined above the recession has had a large impact on the amount of packaging available for recycling, which when combined with the trend for lightweight packaging, produces less total weight Although the amount of customers on the Garden Waste Collection Scheme continues to increase and it remains a profitable service, the amount of garden waste collected and composted remains virtually constant and (Graph 6) shows that the amount of dry recyclables collected from the kerbside is steadily reducing. Under these circumstances increasing the recycling rate remains a challenge.
The system of using National Indicators (NI) to report waste statistics became obsolete on 1 April 2011, although NI’s remain for other areas of local government. Waste NI’s were used to record the percentage of household waste sent for reuse/recycling/composting (NI192) and the residual waste kg per household (NI 192). These statistics are still available through Waste Data Flow and continue to provide a useful tool to LA’s to monitor their progress at a local level.
The reasons for the reduction in kerbside dry recycling tonnages include:
– ‘Light weighting’ of packages – all packaging companies are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and one way this can be achieved is to make the packaging lighter. This saves money and carbon on transport as well as production costs.
– Paper represents about 60% of the total tonnage sent for recycling. There has been a strong downward trend for paper tonnages during the last three years (Graph 8). This could be due to increased use of the intranet for daily news, and a reduction in the purchasing of magazines, newspapers, etc. due to the economic downturn.
– Waste Minimisation – the effectiveness of both national and the local ‘Don’t let Devon go to waste’ awareness campaigns to encourage reduction of all types of waste are having impact it is believed. In addition residents do need to be reminded of what materials can be recycled and to be encouraged to do the right thing.
Food waste collection
Exeter City is the only WCA in Devon not to collect food waste at the kerbside. There are a number of reasons why this has not been pursued to date, the overriding one being the cost of introducing a separate food waste collection. Other WCAs in Devon have benefited from Government funding in the past to support organic collection but this funding is no longer available. A partnership bid with the County Council to the recent £250 million DCLG fund was considered to support the introduction of food waste collections but this was not submitted as there were concerns as to how the scheme would continue to be funded once Government support ceased. It is unlikely that the scheme would have received funding as only those Councils who were offering a weekly residual waste collection received any Government support.
The cost of introducing a food waste collection is estimated to be in the region of an initial setup cost of £1.1 million capital and annual revenue cost of £1m in the first year and £0.6m thereafter.
Although the introduction of a food waste collection is not being considered in the short term, the viability of such an option will be kept under review. Based on an average collection of 1.7kg/household/week this would equate to approximately 4,600 tonnes per year which would yield an increase of approx 12% on the current recycling rate.
The Exeter Energy from Waste (Efw) plant is progressing well and is due to become operational in June 2014; from that point Exeter’s residual waste will be recovered and no longer go to landfill.
Total waste arising is an important indicator of the success of waste prevention measures, the top of the Waste Hierarchy. Reducing overall waste (both recycling and landfill waste) reduces the amount of carbon produced and resources used; both of these are important indicators on the road to a sustainable society.
Exeter’s total waste arising kg/head of population has fallen from 335.6 in 2006/7 to 301kg in 2011/12. It is the second lowest in Devon (Graph 7) and the 7th lowest in England. Graph 8 shows it is similarly well placed within the bench marking group. This is in part due to the low levels of garden waste collected which keeps the overall tonnage per head and per household lower than districts which ‘grew’ their waste stream by offering free collections.
Exeter ranks 5th in Devon based on kg residual waste/household (National Indicator 191) as it has comparatively less houses per capita compared to the more rural districts.
5. Further Activities to Improve Recycling Performance
Schools and students
A free recycling service continues to be offered to all schools within Exeter. In addition to the actual collection of materials, the Council also provides an educational support service to all participating schools and colleges, including education visits and targeted communications and use of the MRF training room.
The Green Team initiative set up in partnership with the Express and Echo and Gregory Distribution Company has proven to be a successful way of engaging school-children and it has sponsorship for a further year.
The Recycling Department has been working with the University’s Community Liaison Officer in developing better tailored information for students about refuse and recycling collection.
Third Party recycling and material buy in
Charities, community and voluntary groups continue to collect a significant amount of recyclable materials in the City every year. In 2011/12 this was a total 904 tonnes, representing about 7% of the recycling rate. The Council continues to purchase such material directly from groups and also pays recycling credits to reflect the saving in disposal costs.
The Enforcement/Education Officer continues to address the issue of contaminated recycling reported by the collection crews. The introduction of the ‘in-cab’ technology in the collection vehicles has made this more accurate and efficient. Problems are initially addressed with a letter explaining the recycling system in Exeter; if the problem continues a visit to the resident follows. By this method contamination levels have been maintained at a relatively low level.
Communications and events
Communicating the message on recycling and waste minimisation to residents and businesses is an important tool to engender changed behaviour. Graph 10 of the appendix shows there is still a significant amount of materials in the landfill bin which could be recycled. Roadshows, attendance at community events, promoting ‘Don’t let Devon go to waste’ initiatives including social media; and conducting MRF tours all help to get the messages across to the wider community.
The key areas that will be focussed on for 2013/14 and beyond are to:
-maintain the recycling rate as the economic climate continues to affect purchasing choices and companies strive to reduce the weight of their packaging;
-continue to address the clinical waste contamination in the MRF;
– continue to encourage waste minimisation to reduce the amount of waste being produced, and focus on reducing the larger fractions in landfill waste, especially food waste;
– increase the quality of materials collected for recycling by continuing to reduce the contamination levels;
– maintain a high-quality collection service, taking into account rising fuel costs and the financial pressures on Exeter City Council;
– base education drives on sound information from surveys and collection data including using the information from the residual waste survey;
– increase the range of materials collected at the refreshed bring bank sites, and enhance customer use.
– promote compost bin use in early Spring 2013 and another in early Summer.
6. Reason for Recommendation/Conclusion
Recycling rates within the city have stabilised at around 37% with a target set to achieve 40% by 2015. Actions are being proposed to work towards this target and the City and County Council will continue to work closely together in this respect.
Assistant Director – Environment (Exeter City Council)
Head of Capital Development and Waste Management
Electoral Divisions: All Exeter City wards
Local Government Act 1972: List of Background Papers
Contact for enquiries:
Wendy Barratt, Devon County Council,Room No. Room 21, Matford Offices, County Hall, Exeter; and
Simon Hill, Exeter City Council, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter
1.Details on File [January 2006 to April 2007] EXM/567
2.DAWRRC Stats report [June 2012]
*29 Recycling Rates in the City
The Board considered the joint report of the Head of Capital Development and Waste Management (Devon County Council) and the Assistant Director Environment (Exeter City Council) (CDW/13/1 – text only | pdf) on recycling rates in Exeter, general policy on recycling and composting, comparisons with other Devon authorities and other Council s in Exeter s benchmarking group, reasons for differences in performance; and actions to address these differences.
Members discussion points with the officers included:
the reasons for the differences of the City compared with the Devon District Councils (relating primarily to their rural nature) and the very favourable comparisons with other comparable cities nationally; the City also performed well in the level of waste produced per capita
the limited cost benefit advantages of a dedicated food waste collection service currently under review acknowledging the current cost and limited resources available made it prohibitive at this stage;
the current level of weekly collections in the City for certain areas and the need to review more roads for this for example in and around Roberts Road, St Leonards
the impact of the new impending Waste to Energy plant in Exeter using the City s waste, diverting it from landfill and proposals for development of a community heating project; the new plant would not impact on recycling rates however;
the need for more education in relating to minimising food waste and proper utilisation of green bins especially in respect of the student population in the city; and the need for easy to read or pictorial promotional material;
the limited evidence relating to any increase in tipping rates arising from additional charges at the recycling centres. This was however under review and more information would be available in due course.
a suggestion that this interesting and informative report should be referred to the City Council s Community Services Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee noted the promotion and support by the Members Funding Group in respect of the subsidy for benefit recipients on the price charged for the bulky waste scheme operated by Exeter City Council. This would, it was hoped, also help alleviate the problem of fly tipping in the City.
It was MOVED by Councillor Leadbetter, SECONDED by Councillor Sutton and RESOLVED that the content of the report and progress made to date on recycling within the City and in particular the relatively low waste produced per head of population be noted and that the proposed future actions be endorsed.