Given the challenges described, we have to be realistic in terms of what the Council can do to increase recycling in order to meet the Government targets.
The Waste Strategy will set out the principles for how we will manage Swindon’s waste, along with some specific measures we will introduce in the first 12 months to improve our recycling rate. We would like to hear from you about these proposals, outlined below.
While many residents do currently make use of the Council’s kerbside recycling collection service, we want to encourage those that don’t to take part as well. Far too much recyclable material currently ends up in the black bin/ blue bags. Last year for example, 1,556 tonnes of metal cans were put in black bins, costing the Council and Swindon taxpayers almost £190,000 in disposal costs when they could have earned an income as clean recycling.
Non collection of black bins that contain excess recycling
One option for Swindon, subject to public views and agreement by the Council’s Cabinet, is that we stop collecting black bins that contain excessive amounts of recyclable material.
If this encourages people to recycle more then our recycling rate will increase and the Council and Swindon taxpayers will save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
tonnes of metal cans were put in the black bins/blue bags last year
Putting all cans in the recycling box would have saved almost £190,000 in disposal costs last year
Temporarily stop collecting plastics separately for recycling
We propose that in the short term residents should put their plastic into their black bins/blue bags and separate plastics collections should stop. The main benefit of returning plastics to the black bin/ blue bags is that we will know exactly where our plastic goes and what happens to it, so there is no risk of it ending up in overseas landfill or worse. This is because we would be able to process the plastic in Swindon, converting it into fuel at Swindon’s solid recovered fuel (SRF) plant in Cheney Manor.
Another benefit of this approach is that it may increase recycling of other materials like glass, cans and paper/card which are currently put in black bins/blue bags. This would happen because there will be less room in the black bin/blue bags for these materials so residents will be more likely to use their recycling boxes instead.
We do not consider this a long-term solution and when plastic recycling becomes more environmentally-friendly and cost effective, we will consider reintroducing a plastic collection service.
The Government has proposed an initiative to phase out single use plastics, are encouraging bottle recycling via a deposit return scheme and are also encouraging manufacturers to streamline the number, type and recyclability of the various plastics used in packaging. This will take a number of years to have an impact but will make plastic recycling collections more feasible in the future.
Charge for recycling boxes
Currently new build properties are supplied with a 180 litre black wheelie bin and two recycling boxes. Residents can request up to an additional two boxes free of charge. Providing residents with new, additional and replacement boxes costs the Council more than £90,000 a year. This figure will continue to grow as more properties are built in the borough.
The number of boxes supplied does not directly link to an increase in recycling rates. In fact our recycling rate has been falling and we suspect that a proportion of the boxes ordered are not used for recycling at all.
We are proposing a small fee for each additional or replacement recycling box requested to help cover some of the cost to the taxpayer, allowing budget to be better spent elsewhere.
recycling boxes are delivered every year
Longer term options
In order to meet the more challenging targets in future we will need to consider how our collection service can be designed to help residents recycle more and throw away less. How we collect general waste and recycling will be considered at the time that our current fleet of vehicles need replacing but we would like your views on which options you would prefer.