Feniton resident ten-year-old Paige Flockhart pictured sorting out her family's recycling.

Roll out of innovative new recycling scheme which will include cardboard, mixed plastics and Tetra Paks for all residents to be completed by early next year

East Devon residents will be at the forefront of one of the most innovative recycling and waste services in the country following the district council’s decision to award its new collection contract to current operators SUEZ (formerly SITA UK).

Starting from next year, all 68,000 households in the district will be able to recycle more of their waste than ever before – including cardboard, mixed plastics and Tetra Paks – and these items will be collected from the kerbside every week.

The new contract, which will run for seven years, with the option to extend up to three further years, totals just over £30m and underlines the council’s ambition to help its residents recycle as much as possible. The council has to meet an EU recycling target of 50% by 2020, but hope to reach at least 60% of waste being recycled with this extensive new scheme.

Over the last 14 months, the council has undertaken a stringent European Union compliant procurement process in order to appoint the best possible service provider. Financially, the contract is significant for the council as the recycling and waste service accounts for around a quarter of its total annual revenue spend – just over £4m every year.

Following a rigorous selection process, where the detailed bids of each proposed service being offered was carefully evaluated and scrutinised, the council’s current operators SUEZ (formerly SITA UK) were successful.

Councillor Iain Chubb, the council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

The contract heralds a completely new service which only a handful of other councils across the country have recently introduced. It really does put East Devon District Council at the cutting edge of environmental sustainability at a time when it’s more important than ever to protect our outstanding countryside.

The new service will mean residents can recycle more – something they have been asking us to help them with for some time now – and bring considerable benefits to our environment too, as we will be wasting less. I’m absolutely delighted.

Steve Holgate, General Manager, Municipal at SUEZ, recycling and recovery UK said:

We are delighted to have won this market leading contract, which will enable us to continue our partnership with East Devon District Council, helping local residents recycle as much as possible through reliable and progressive collection services.

Our local team has established itself in the community in recent years and our people take great pride in providing a friendly, efficient and professional service while they help protect the lovely environment of East Devon.

As part of the preparations for the new contract, the council has already been trialling the extra recycling collection of cardboard and mixed plastics in two areas of the district since September to see how it would work.

Almost 1,400 households in new Feniton and The Colony, Exmouth have been taking part in the trials where their extra recycling along with the extensive number of recyclables they can already collect, is picked up from the kerbside each week.

The residents have found that they have less rubbish in their waste bins as they can recycle so much more. With their recycling and food waste collected every week, their waste bins are collected every three weeks.

Cllr Chubb said:

The trials have helped us understand the practicalities of how we can meet residents’ needs, benefit our environment and ensure the service is economically viable. The households involved have been outstanding and the trials have been an enormous success. Some of those taking part are recycling more than 60% of their waste each week – an increase of 18% in some cases - which is phenomenal.

With our residents help we have flipped the recycling rate. We used to throw away 60% and recycle around 40% The trial areas have turned this rate on it’s head, meaning 60% of waste is now diverted from disposal and recycled instead.

Many of those taking part have asked us to continue with the trials which we have promised we will do, although we will not be collecting Tetra Paks until the new scheme is rolled out across the whole district next year.

A fleet of specially adapted new lorries which can separate and store dry recycling from the kerbside will now be ordered in advance of the new recycling scheme.

Cllr Chubb added:

The new kerbside sort lorries are being ordered as part of this new contract, however the lead time on their build means we don’t expect to take delivery of the new vehicles until the end of the year. For this reason, the start of the new service will take a little longer. If the vehicles can be delivered earlier, we will try to negotiate an earlier start to the service.

However, this time will enable us to ensure that all our residents are aware of the new changes and be fully prepared for the new service which will be rolled out over a phased period in early 2017.

We have an extensive communications plan around the new service and will be holding roadshows and other events to promote the exciting changes. Until then, existing collections will remain in place and it’s business as usual.