Bracknell Forest Council’s Executive set to approve delaying changes to greening waste collections
Plans to introduce a dedicated weekly food recycling collection in Bracknell Forest may be moved back to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January, Bracknell Forest Council announced plans to reduce the borough’s impact on climate change through cutting landfill waste. This would be achieved via a weekly food recycling collection from October 2020.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, the council’s decision-making Executive is being asked to approve moving the roll out back to March 2021 for houses and autumn 2021 for flats and houses of multiple occupation.
The pandemic has meant that communicating the changes regularly and via face-to-face events, drop-ins and meetings has not been possible – either due to social distancing instructions or other public health and safety messages taking priority. This means that currently residents are not as informed as they should be on the changes in readiness for an October launch.
Additionally, production of the five food waste collection vehicles has been halted due to the pandemic with no current delivery date confirmed. Plus, work to revise and re-route waste collections has stalled due to pandemic-related staff shortages.
The Executive is asked to agree to the five-month delay to allow all the preparation work to take place so that residents are fully informed and ready. The delay will also allow for the vehicles to be produced and delivered and routes to be revised appropriately.
Back in January, Executive councillors approved proposals to:
Introduce a weekly food waste collection service to all houses in Bracknell Forest.
Encourage all residents to reduce, reuse and recycle everything possible to cut the amount of waste going to landfill.
Maximise performance of the food waste collection service by changing refuse collection frequency to once every three weeks.
Once launched, the weekly food waste collection for every house in the borough aims to cut the amount of rubbish going to environmentally costly landfill sites by around 4,000 tonnes a year.
This waste will then be turned into renewable energy and recycled into fertiliser.
Bracknell Forest’s recycling rate has plateaued over the past few years at around 40 per cent in total and, as part of its response to climate change, the council is committed to improving that rate. The proposals agreed will provide that opportunity.
Cllr Mrs Dorothy Hayes, MBE, Executive Member for Environment, said: “We are still very much committed to tackling the growing issue of climate change and rolling out a weekly food waste collection to reduce the borough’s impact on our environment.
“However, we are in unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and so we’re not ready to launch in October 2020 as we originally planned.
“The Executive is being asked to agree a delay of five months so the preparatory work can be carried out and we can communicate and engage with our residents properly, which hasn’t been possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The delay is unfortunate but it’s important we do continue with the plans. By recycling food waste we are aiming to increase recycling rates and create renewable energy at the same time. It’s an environmental win-win.
“Additionally, recycling more will help reduce the financial cost of throwing waste in landfill, which could cost taxpayers millions of pounds over the next few years. This money can be ploughed into other essential services instead, including supporting our most vulnerable residents.”
The Executive will consider the proposal to delay implementation until March 2021 for houses and autumn 2021 for flats and houses of multiple occupation at its meeting on 14 July.
Should the proposals be agreed, a full communications and engagement plan will be rolled out to help residents’ understanding and give them the opportunity to ask questions from autumn 2020.
Other UK councils with less than fortnightly refuse collections have seen their recycling rate grow by around 6 per cent on average. Bracknell Forest aims to achieve and exceed this with a target of 10 per cent compared to 2018/19 figures.
Recent waste surveys have shown that the weight of food waste accounts for 42 per cent of waste in residual bins. Around another 19 per cent of waste that goes in residents’ residual bins could be recycled, either in the blue recycling bin or via one of the numerous recycling banks.
Food can cause odour in bins so this change will allow more frequent collections from a small lockable caddy, designed to prevent animals accessing the contents. A mixture of items can be put in the food recycling caddy including:
all cooked and uncooked food
meat and fish bones
tea bags and coffee grounds
vegetable peelings, banana skins and apple cores
out of date food (without packaging)
cooking oil in a sealed plastic bottle (this needs to be in the outdoor caddy on collection day)