Rubbish recycling rates set to continue as Labour bins new plans

The Progressive Group has challenged the Labour-led Council over a delay in implementing a new domestic waste collection strategy and of consigning thousands more tonnes of food waste to be burned at the Energy from Waste plant.

The proposals for a new kerb-side sorting recycling service, including glass and food waste, cost the Council £16,214 in a Waste consultant’s report. The preferred proposal was then extensively scrutinised by councillors, before Exeter City Council agreed in 2019 to introduce the service. The new system, at a cost of £3.8m, was due to be introduced this Spring. However, the Labour administration has now launched a review to look at alternatives, citing ‘financial and operational considerations.’

Commenting, Green councillor Diana Moore, said:

“The proposal for a new kerbside weekly recyclable waste collection system, to include food waste, was very welcome. Indeed, Greens campaigned for six years to have a food waste collection system in Exeter – hundreds of people signed our petition on this. We were therefore delighted when, finally, the Council agreed to residents’ demands.

“The £3.8 million scheme was presented with such certainty, so residents will be as shocked as I am to discover that the Labour-led Council is now back at the redesign stage again.

“Almost half of Exeter’s grey bin waste is food waste, so we need to know how much longer the council will be paying for the thousands of tonnes of food waste generated each year to go up in smoke. If separated out, it could create biogas for renewable energy generation and be turned into useful compost.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Kevin Mitchell said:

“Of course there needed to be a trials of the new vehicles, and I was reassured when last year the councillor responsible for introducing the new service indicated the scheme would still be implemented later this year despite the COVID pandemic. But now it seems the Labour administration are being forced to delay the implementation of our vital new recycling services because they have to revisit their proposals.

“Their arguments such as city streets being too narrow for waste collection vehicles and the impact on workers at the Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF) are deeply worrying. Surely these are vital issues that should have been foreseen when the £3.8m scheme was agreed in 2019. It’s one thing to refine a service, but this delay also means the MRF hasn’t been upgraded and Exeter’s recycling rate remains at a dismal 26% – the lowest in Devon.” 

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