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Next steps of weekly food waste collections rollout to be considered

Cheshire East Council has given an update on work to introduce weekly food waste collections across the borough.

'Simpler Recycling Scheme' legislation announced in October 2023 means that all local authorities must collect food waste from their residents on a weekly basis by no later than 1 April 2026.

Next week, the council’s environment and communities committee will consider a report that seeks approval to move forward with plans for rolling out the changes in Cheshire East – based on a proposal to collect food waste alongside the fortnightly garden bin rounds, and then separately as a food waste round in the alternate weeks.

The council is also proposing to consult on plans to move to collecting black bins once every three weeks.

If implemented, these changes would be delivered at the same time as the weekly food waste collections begin.

It is estimated that by doing this, it could increase recycling rates by almost 5 per cent, as well as reduce the financial burden of introducing weekly food waste collections in Cheshire East by more than £1m each year.

Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council’s environment and communities committee, said:

“Introducing weekly food waste collections is a significant operational change affecting almost all our residents, and the financial impacts will also be significant.

“At the moment, we don’t know how much funding we will receive from Government to compensate the council for introducing these changes, and there’s a significant risk that the funding won’t cover the costs in full.

“Any shortfall will place an even bigger pressure on the council’s finances – we’re already forecasting a funding gap of £100m over the next four years.

“That’s why – along with wishing to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle more of their waste – at the same time as weekly food waste collections are introduced, we’re proposing to move to collecting black bins once every three weeks.

“It offers the best value for money and would reduce the demand on our existing fleet of bin wagons and staff and make a significant revenue saving in excess of £1m per year.”

In late 2023, a consultation was launched by the Government which included draft guidance requiring councils to collect residual (black bin) waste each fortnight as a minimum. 

The council responded to this consultation, saying that this would have a detrimental impact on the ability of councils to increase recycling rates and to be able to join up large-scale operational changes because of weekly food waste collections.

Cllr Warren added:

“We understand that as a local authority, if the guidance is passed by Government through the Parliamentary process, we could not make these proposed changes to black bin collections.

“However, we are proposing to carry out this consultation now so that we are in a position to move forward with what is the most cost effective and least risky solution for introducing weekly food waste collections, which can also meet the deadline previously set by the Government.”

Subject to committee approval, the consultation on black bin collections is expected to launch in September.

The feedback received will be considered before final proposals are developed and brought back to committee for a decision later this year.

Read the full report to the 18 July environment and communities committee.

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