Basildon councillors agree to separate food and garden waste collections

Bin collections in Basildon are to change “significantly” from next year, as councillors agree to separate food and garden waste collections.

Residents currently have their garden and food waste collected together every week, but the proposals would see a new, weekly food waste service introduced, while garden waste would become fortnightly.

The new strategy also includes provision for a 23 litre outdoor caddy, 5 litre indoor kitchen caddy and 50 free caddy liners a year per household.

Councillors said residents “did not want” a fortnightly garden waste collection to stop over the winter months, before agreeing to recommend their preferred model for final approval by the full council later this year.

Over 7,000 residents responded to a public consultation between July 12-August 22 this year, which found opinions were mixed over garden waste stopping over the winter.

20.9 per cent of respondents were strongly against, 23.1 per cent against, 24.4 per cent in support and 22 per cent choosing neither support or against, according to the results, which were included in a council report.Chairing the Leisure and Environment Committee last night (September 23),

Councillor Craig Rimmer (Con, Pitsea South East) said he was “astounded” by how many people responded.

He said: “There seems to be a clear steer from members of the public that they don’t want the service reduced in the winter months.

“So I think we have to respect that basically, and keep it fortnightly throughout the year and have the 26 collections, but it would be good if we could also explore at council opportunities for the future about how maybe we can digitise the service to actually streamline those collections in future years.”

Director of Community and Environment Paul Brace told the meeting digitalising bin collections, so residents can keep up to date with services and even order in collections on demand, had been discussed “at great length” by officers.

He said: “Certainly the app that we have, the Our Streets app, is the start of the future.”

However, leader of the Labour group Jack Ferguson (Pitsea North West) said the recycling fiasco earlier this month, when collections were suspended due to staff shortages, demonstrated the council needed a better trial of the changes before committing to them long term.

He said at the meeting: “[I am] just concerned that we’re coming up with a recommendation that could change significantly things for our residents and we need to have the widest possible evidence base to be able to make the decision.

“I’m concerned we don’t have that evidence base before us.

“We saw what happened only a few weeks ago when pink sacks weren’t collected and what happened around streets where I live, streets across my ward.”

A trial of separate food and garden waste collections involving 99 households across the borough was concluded in February this year, according to an earlier council statement.

Food and garden waste will have to be collected separately in line with the Government’s Environment Bill, expected to be enacted early next year.

The council report estimates the Basildon’s model will cost an extra £560,000 a year plus one-off costs of £395,000 for containers and £112,000 in vehicle return penalties, compared to the current system.

£406,000 will go towards seven 12-tonne electric vehicles, which have already been ordered and will arrive in 2022.

The recommendations agreed on will now go for approval to the Policy Executive Committee and then full council.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter