We have created an action plan for the first year of our Waste Strategy.
It aims to start to deliver against the objectives in our waste strategy, reducing the amount of waste we produce as a town and increasing recycling so that we meet the required 50% recycling rate by 2020.
Resident feedback given during the engagement period provided us with very useful information which has been taken into consideration for all our plans. Exact timescales, policy and implementation plans will be communicated next year so we have time to address concerns raised by residents.
The actions for the first year plan are:
Improved information and education
We will make sure good communication is at the heart of our waste services so residents understand how to reduce waste and correctly use recycling services. 57% of residents said this would help them reduce waste and increase recycling in our recent engagement.
We will let residents know the details of any service changes in advance and we will be investing in providing additional Waste Wardens and information to offer practical support and advice.
Lead by example
We aim to start the process for phasing out single use plastics from the Council and will work with our departments to make sure recycling is as high possible across the council.
We will also be working with local businesses to encourage
and help them reduce their waste and increase recycling.
Residents currently not recycling cost the Swindon tax-payer hundreds of thousands of pounds a year because we have to pay to dispose of waste that could be recycled. 81% of survey respondents said this would have little or no impact on them and conversations/survey comments highlighted a desire for more action taken on those that do not recycle.
In practice this will likely mean that when our collection crews notice households who aren’t recycling at all, or are including a lot of recyclable material in the wrong bins, we will send round a Waste Warden to support the household and offer advice on how to recycle more effectively.
Start the process of introducing food waste collection
During our engagement over 70% of respondents said they would use a food waste service. Given that food is a heavy waste item and recycling totals are calculated by weight, recycling food waste is key to improving Swindon’s recycling rate.
With that in mind we will be aiming to introduce food waste collections from 2020 and next year we will begin the process of organising the vehicles, staff, treatment facilities and containers required for the service to run. We will also look into a trial before a full roll out.
Introduce charging for recycling boxes
We currently spend over £90,000 a year of tax payers' money supplying recycling boxes. A charge for additional and replacement boxes will help recoup some of this cost and allow budgets to be better spent elsewhere.
51% of the survey respondents indicated a charge of £5 or more per box was reasonable although some concerns were raised about damaged boxes during collections and the potential of increased box theft or fly tipping. As a result we will be looking at options to address these concerns.
The engagement period highlighted a number of resident concerns regarding plastic waste collection and recycling. The feedback was very useful and as a result we will need to do further work to find out the best method for recycling or otherwise disposing of plastics in Swindon.
We have decided to postpone making any decisions on plastic collections while we wait for Government to publish their Resources and Waste Strategy as this may have an impact on what we do.
In the meantime our officers will also do further work to research alternative technologies which Swindon could use to recycle plastic waste.
You can read our full statement on our plastics decision here