Thursday, 28 March 2013

Food Waste Blue Boxes and Liners

It has been a busy week for Independent Party leader Cllr Martin Terry. Earlier in the week he offered to abandon his residents in Westborough to challenge Cllr Alex Kaye to a by-election duel in Thorpe ward.

It would have been an interesting prospect to see how Cllr Terry, a former Labour Party member and candidate in Southend, would have explained to residents in Thorpe that he is a 'Conservative a heart' as all Independent Party candidates in Thorpe are encouraged to do.

Cllr Terry then though that with all his flexing of the muscles talk he would put it into practice by taking on the challenge of holding four new blue recycling bins in an Echo article criticising the council in its efforts to increase food recycling rates.

It is the drivel spouted in this article, which as I have said on many occasions, has a tendency to become fact when it goes unchallenged. Whilst it may have been a month ago, lets not forget that Cllr Terry was in favour of removing black sack provision in order to try and reduce our landfill costs when he voted for the Conservative administrations budget.

With some members pushing the Cllr Terry myth, it is easy to forget how the increased focus in food waste recycling came about.

The Department for Communities and Local Government announced in 2012 that it had made a £250 million ‘Weekly Collections Support Scheme’ fund available for local authorities in England to ‘increase the frequency and quality of waste collections and make it easier to recycle’.

Southend Council made an application to DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Fund. The Council’s bid was to seek funding to support the re-launch of the food waste recycling scheme in order to increase our recycling rates.

The proposal included the issuing of new blue food waste bins and compostable liners to all residents in the town. Feedback from residents indicated that a significant barrier to participation in the scheme was the lack of free food waste bin liners.

The Council successfully secured a grant of £1.635M allocated over the next 3 years - £635k in 2012/13, £500k in 2013/14 and £500k in 2014/15.This would make a significant contribution towards raising the profile and uptake of the food waste scheme but also provide an opportunity to further promote recycling as a whole to our residents.

A condition for the issuing of the grant was that the council had to retain a weekly black sack collection. The intention was to increase the amount of food waste that is recycled and diverted away for black sacks. We estimate this initiative will save the Council approximately £100k per year.

The roll out program started the week commencing 4th March 2013 and will be running for 6 weeks until 12th April 2013. We are now at the end of week 4 and there are two delivery phases.

In the first phase containers, liners and information leaflets will be delivered to 60,000 households across the town. Once the roll out is complete residents will start to receive on-going deliveries of liners every 6 months with their allocation of pink sacks.

In the second phase bins and liners will be provided to high rise properties and flats. This requires engaging with managing agents to agree the location of a communal bin and may take longer. It is worth noting that our contractor Cory has already established a roll out program for high rise properties and flats with 10% already having communal food bins.

I appreciate that residents who have already been using the scheme may feel that it is unnecessary for them to have a new set of bins. However, the design of the new bins are a vast improvement on the old style bins with increased functionality, larger capacity, better design and additional locking mechanism. If was felt appropriate for those residents who have been participating in the scheme to also have access to the superior new bins as they are more secure and resistant to foxes.

It is simply more cost effective to provide all householders with a new bin with their food waste bin liners than try to identify all the households who were not using the scheme or those who would have required a new bin. The entire cost of this is met by the DCLG grant meaning that we can use the grant to make revenue budget savings in the long run.


Julian Ware-Lane said...

I hate to be a pednat, but ...

"[I]ncreased functionality" - pray explain. As far as I can tell their function, to collect and recycle food waste, is unchanged.

Cllr Tony Cox said...

Julian, I think you will understand that I am not teaching you suck eggs you have rightly described their functionality. This is increased as the bins are more sturdier than the type issued previously.