Basildon Council plots ‘radical changes’ to bin collections, as Government orders 20,000 new homes but slashes budget

MORE than 60 per cent of waste thrown away in black bags by Basildon residents could actually have been recycled, a council report has revealed.

The statistic was contained in a series of documents published this week, calling on the council to ‘radically transform’ its waste services.

One report penned by council officers stated: “We are running an analogue system in a digital world.”

Whilst ‘details are still being determined’, initial proposals include:

  • -Switching to electric rubbish trucks
  • -Installing new in-vehicle technology, allowing staff to respond to local issues
  • -Asking residents to sort waste into more specific categories (ie. metal, plastic, paper/card, etc)

The council documents said change was needed not only to protect the environment but also to cut costs, as Government continues to reduce councils’ budgets.

By 2020, Basildon Council’s Government funding is set to be less than 10 per cent of what it was in 2010.

Meanwhile, the council is being ordered by Government to allow the development of almost 20,000 new homes by 2034, which will require waste collections.

The report said: “Our financial constraints continue to tighten. If we don’t redesign the way we work, we won’t be able to continue meeting the borough’s needs.”

Basildon currently produces more waste per household (almost one tonne per year) than anywhere else in Essex and has the county’s fourth-worst recycling rate.

At present, 47 per cent of the borough’s waste goes to recycling – but a recent investigation discovered that the bulk of the non-recycled waste should actually have been recycled as well.

The analysis found 62 per cent of waste being thrown into residents’ black bags should have gone into pink recycling bags.

New Government rules state that it should be a ‘requirement’ for residents to sort their rubbish into specific categories for collection: glass, metal, plastic, paper/card, food waste and garden waste.

Papers, to be debated by councillors next week, examined the ways in which other councils had already changed their services.

A report said: “Being slower than other authorities to change may now become a benefit, as we have the potential to leap forward in areas where others initially had to struggle.

“Having cautiously watched and waited as other authorities remodelled their services, we must now be willing to learn their lessons and commit ourselves to bold, purposeful action.”

One suggestion was converting the council’s fleet of 38 rubbish trucks to electric.

Currently, the trucks drive over 440,000 miles per year, but get just 4.1 miles to the gallon.

In Sheffield, existing diesel trucks are being recycled rather than scrapped by converting them to electric. The trucks are then powered by converting the waste they collect into energy, with any surplus fed back into the grid.

Another proposal is using data and new in-vehicle technology to alter the way rubbish collections are organised, allowing staff to respond to ‘live resident reports’.

The report said similar changes at other councils had resulted in an average reduction of 20 per cent in mileage and CO2 emissions.

In Sunderland, using such technology cut missed bin reports by 7,000 and saved £136,364 of taxpayers’ money.

The council’s Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee will discuss the planned changes in a public meeting at the Bas Centre next Wednesday, November 27, at 7pm.

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]