WHEELIE bins and alternate weekly rubbish collections are being planned for the New Forest to drive up the area’s poor recycling rates.
The district council’s environment panel is to ask at its meeting today (Thursday) to support the preparation of plans for a waste and recycling service which would operate on alternate weeks.
The option would also include a weekly food waste collection from a caddy, and garden waste wheelie bins collected fortnightly for a fee.
Residents currently use black and clear plastic sacks for rubbish and recycling, which is picked up weekly, reusable bags for garden waste, and a box for glass collection every four weeks.
Cllr Alison Hoare, NFDC’s Conservative cabinet member for environment, told the A&T: “Residents definitely want to recycle more and they understand there has to be a fundamental change.
“Change is always worrying but we want to work with residents, and we want them to tell us exactly how it will affect their lives.”
Wheelie bins are a divisive issue in the New Forest. Some welcome them as convenient and more resilient to rubbish-raiding animals, but others object to their presence on streets as ugly and unwieldy.
Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, accepted the district had a “very poor” recycling record but said he did not support wheelie bins being “imposed” on residents. He claimed the plan was already a “done deal”.
In a report to panel members, council officers said the introduction of a fortnightly rubbish pick-up would drive down waste generation and increase recycling.
Residents pile up clear sacks containing recyclables together outside their homes, the report said, making it difficult to identify those households putting out contaminated recycling.About 20% of clear sacks are currently rejected.
The council will also increase the volume it collects for recycling, including plastic trays and beverage cartons, which are not allowed under the current system.
Low recycling rates across the district, which stood at just 34% in 2019/20 – significantly below the national average of 44%, must be tackled, the report warmed.
In 2018/19, NFDC’s performance was ranked 286th out of 345 councils in England.
“Analysis of residual waste shows that most households could adequately contain their residual waste in a wheeled bin,” said the report. “Overall, 19% of residual waste placed in black sacks could have been recycled at the kerbside or bring-sites.”
Chris Noble, NFDC’s service manager for waste and transport, told the A&T that 40% of waste in black bags comprised food waste. “This was shocking to everyone,” he said.
Another issue with sacks, which were ruled out going forward, was the regularity with which they are ripped open by livestock and birds. The £500,000 cost of distributing 10-million of them every year was said to be unsustainable
“The change would also improve the cleanliness of streets before and after collection by reducing litter and mess caused by split sacks and animal strikes,” officers said.
“In 2019/20, over 150 complaints relating to mess on collection day were received by the customer services team.”
NFDC is the only collection authority out of 13 in Hampshire to use a single-use sack as its “core collection method”, meaning it must have a bespoke arrangement at the current materials recovery facilities. Sorting staff must tear open sacks by hand so contents can be sorted.
The report recommends bringing in a “twin stream” service, meaning householders will be provided with two containers for recyclables. One would contain glass, cans and plastic, and the other paper and card.
Mr Noble accepted there would be homes unsuited to wheelie bins, such as flats and terraced housing in town centres where space was limited, and narrow tracks in rural locations. These households may retain sacks, and collection lorries could take both methods of waste storage.
If it is agreed to take the proposed scheme forward, officers will put together a full business case and carry out further community engagement.