What’s Going on with Cornwall’s Rubbish?

Posted on: 17th November 2017

What’s Going on with Cornwall’s Rubbish? Well, the answer is that up until 2020, no real change other than we would really like it if those not recycling would give it a go! Start with using one of the recycling bags to recycle either paper, cardboard, plastics & tin or a box for glass and fabrics. Anyone who wants containers can contact the council and if not sure what you can and cannot recycle then the Council’s website will help you out.

All you need to know about waste and recycling in Cornwall

Cornwall Recycling Rates

Cornwall Recycling Rates – Graphic supplied by Cornwall Council

However, we are having to take steps to agree the new waste contract for 2020, so it can be put out to tender.

Cabinet have decided, in terms of service delivery, that:

  1. The new Waste Collection and Street Cleansing Contract will be put out to tender on the open market.
  2. The Street and Beach Cleansing element of the contract remains broadly outcome based and has sufficient flexibility to allow devolution of street scene services to Town and Parish Councils.

Cabinet has supported the Overview and Scrutiny Committee view of what the new waste contract should look like BUT wants further work done on the detail and what it might cost. So, below are the proposals for the new contract but further work, including talking with people in Cornwall, will go on. 

Proposed Service Design (final Cabinet decision in February 2018)

  1. The current fortnightly segregated kerbside recycling collections are changed to a weekly frequency in order to improve recycling performance.
  2. The current kerbside recycling containers (bags and boxes) are retained.
  3. Extra recycling containers are made available on request, at no cost to residents, in order to maintain high value recyclables.
  4. Food waste is collected at the kerbside on a weekly basis, with a separate kerbside container and kitchen caddie provided to residents.
  5. Food waste is processed through an Anaerobic Digestion process.
  6. In order to reduce waste and improve recycling rates, the current weekly kerbside residual collections are moved to a fortnightly frequency. This is the rubbish that cannot be recycled.
  7. The kerbside collection of residual waste is restricted to 180 litres maximum (typically three full black sacks), with a ‘no side waste’ policy introduced.
  8. A strategic high-level review of the Integrated Waste Management Contract is undertaken.
  9. The opportunities for receiving additional waste from out of Cornwall at the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre is explored as a means of mitigating cost and capacity issues.
  10. All Cornwall Council household recycling banks are removed.

Given early feedback, whilst the container provided for the rubbish that cannot be recycled might be 180 litres, it is unlikely that 2020 will see a rigid new policy of no side waste.

There is also much talk about the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC) sometimes referred to as the incinerator. The suggestions are that it has too much capacity, too small an opening and that providing a shredder for bulky waste, on site, would have been more sensible. Bearing in mind that the decisions to commission the CERC were likely taken before the Unitary Authority formed or immediately after, I was not involved in those decisions and can only assume, with the information they had then, all were logical. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but we are where we are! I will however address the concerns raised, from today’s perspective, given that I cannot time travel!

The number of homes in Cornwall is likely to increase, whoever is in Government. It would be silly to build an energy from waste plant, with the huge costs involved, without having capacity to last the lifetime of the plant. I’ve no idea what the lifetime is but I’m pretty sure I won’t be around when it is decommissioned and am sure at some time in the future someone will say its not big enough and we need another one!

With hindsight, a bigger opening and/ or a shredder would have been useful. We are looking to trial a shredder but as we have no permissions to put it on site with the CERC, this will go at least initially at Connonbridge, where we do have permissions.

The other challenge is that holiday homes for too long have been allowed to abuse free collection of waste when they are businesses and should make proper arrangements. The ambition is for the new waste contract to address this but, between now and 2020 we will work to educate and take action against the worst offenders. A pilot scheme in Port Issac showed us that it takes significant resources to target an area so I cannot promise a total solution tomorrow or next month or even next year but hopefully most law abiding citizens and businesses will want to do the right thing, especially when they know that the Council is struggling with its limited and reducing Government funds to do the right thing for our residents.

Happy recycling and remember that 35% of what is in our bins is food waste! Why not love food and hate waste!