Cornwall set to boost recycling rates as household waste and recycling collections change from mid-2020

Households across Cornwall will change to a weekly recycling collection and fortnightly non-recyclable waste collections from mid-2020, Cornwall Council's Cabinet agreed today.

Aiming to boost low recycling rates, from mid-2020 plastic, glass, paper and cardboard will be collected weekly, and a new weekly food waste collection introduced. All other non-recyclable waste will be collected fortnightly, with homes issued with either a wheeled bin or seagull proof sack.

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With the current kerbside waste and recycling contract with Biffa coming to an end in March 2020, today's decision paves the way for the next stage of the tender process.

The changes are in line with proposals highlighted in the Government's Resources and Waste Strategy which was published earlier today.

Today's decision reflects increasing concerns about the impact of waste on Cornwall’s environment and has been guided by resident views and practice of other councils across the country, explained Councillor Sue James, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for environment and public protection.

"We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and are incredibly proud of our environment. Today's decision supports residents telling us they want to recycle more.

“We have one of the lowest recycling rates in the UK – we need to recycle more and deal with our food waste more responsibly.  A survey of black bag waste carried out last year showed that a third of the content was food waste. 

“From mid-2020 we'll start collecting food waste in special containers provided by the Council, with this waste then taken to a food processing centre.

"Providing homes with wheeled bins or seagull proof sacks for their waste, we’ll also put to an end the issue of street litter generated by animals pulling apart bin bags on collection day."

The recommendations to change the current waste contract have been considered by a special inquiry, led by the Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny committee. 

The Council has also sought advice from industry experts and other local authorities across the southwest where, all but one other, collect non-recyclable materials every 2-3 weeks. Resident surveys and focus groups, as well as national guidance, helped inform the decision.

Councillor James stressed that no changes will be made until the contract comes into place in April 2020.  

“There is still a lot of work to be done before the changes come into effect in mid-2020. We will be working with communities across Cornwall and will come and talk to you about the changes, explain what needs to happen and when.

“In the meantime, you can help by recycling more and composting where appropriate."

The changes were also supported by local organisations.

Tarn Lamb, Chief Executive of Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change said the move was important to Cornwall’s future saying: “We all need to think and do things differently and have to make smart decisions about what is best for Cornwall, for our future and for our environment. Everyone wants the best outcomes for people and planet - I welcome this decision by the Council to manage resources in a way which prioritises reducing waste and increasing recycling for all our futures.”

Peter Hopkinson, Director of the University of Exeter Centre for Circular Economy said the changes would help increase the quantity and quantity of recycled waste: “This marks an important first step in creating a Cornwall system to reduce waste generation but also recovering more value from the materials within the waste stream.

“The University of Exeter Centre for Circular Economy based at Penryn campus is committed to supporting innovation, creating new jobs and reducing the environmental effects of waste for the benefits of local and regional economies. We look forward to supporting Cornwall Council to continuing to move away from landfill and incineration to circular resource solutions,” he said.  

Find out more about the changes to waste and recycling collections from mid-2020