The Joint Executive Committee received a presentation on the Fibre Recycling Collection Trail which has been in operation in Gateshead and South Tyneside since February 2019.
The JEC were advised that a single collection day on one round was selected in each authority and the WRAP have proved free of charge support for the initial evaluation of the trial.
The inner caddy was replaced with a 240-litre wheeled bin. Residents were asked to place all their paper and cardboard into the new bins. Everything else including cartons would go in the dark blue comingled bin. In Gateshead 1046 (1% of total households) took part and in South Tyneside 1402 (2% of total households) took park in the trial. A range of properties were chosen to represent the different properties within the boroughs to include terraced properties with small backyards, communal properties and pensioners bungalows.
The JEC were informed that the trial was proposed by Palm due to the falling paper tonnages being collected separately in the caddy and to improve the quality of the fibre overall. Income is also generated for the separately collected fibre
As the trial was requested by Palm, it is not costing the authorities any additional resources as they also provided the bins, which are now collected every 4 weeks now in alternate fortnight, therefore no additional collection vehicles or crews were required. Information to residents pre-trial included letters, leaflets, calendars, bin stickers and a series of roadshows were also delivered. Each authority had a small number of enquiries and complaints. In Gateshead, 10 households refused to take part in the trial. No households refused in South Tyneside.
The JEC were advised that a number of key achievements were recognised from the trial. Most of the fibre, around 99% is now being processed separately in the new bin, and the number of comingled bins presented at kerbside is consistent pre and post trial. However, the presentation rates for the fibre bin have dramatically increased compared to the inner caddy.
The quality of the fibre has improved as contamination has been minimal, and by improving the quality of the paper and cardboard means the contractor will be able to find a market for the material more easily and more of it can be used at the paper mill to turn into newsprint. This is important as material prices for paper have recently dropped so the better the quality of paper the easier it is to find a sustainable UK outlet.
Contamination levels have reduced within the comingled material which has improved the recycling rate from the trial area and a small amount of side waste was reported. Income levels to both Councils have increased as the percentage of material that an income is received for has increased from 17% to 44%.
Costs associated with processing the comingled material has reduced as this material has reduced from 83% to 56%.
Financial modelling had been carried out to determine the financial impact to the Councils if this service was rolled out to every household. This indicates that instead of the Council’s having a considerable net cost for the processing and handling of the materials they would in fact receive a considerable net income. Any costs would be dependent on future gate fees and fibre income prices.
The JEC were advised that all householders on the trial were invited to submit comments on the new service via a short freepost questionnaire. A large percentage responded (48% Gateshead and 25% South Tyneside) and the survey indicated a largely positive response with around 87% of residents stating they would recommend the service to family and friends.
The WRAP study has analysed the data and it clearly shows the trial is operating successfully and participation rates are consistently high. The data also shows that the trial has helped improve the quality of the material collected (especially the fibres stream).
The JEC were advised that the report also highlights some issues that would need to be considered before the trail was expanded to a larger number of households. These relate to the storage of additional bins and the frequency of collections, these were raised by some residents in the survey.
The current trial in both collection rounds will continue until March 2021. Discussions remain ongoing between partner authorities and Palm regarding potentially expanding the trial to other parts of Gateshead and South Tyneside. However, several issues need to be resolved including cost of bins and impact on the new MRF tender process.
All 3 authorities will need to consider the results of a collections option appraisal exercise which is being provided free of charge by WRAP in conjunction with private consultants. This will identify the most economical and environmentally sustainable kerbside collection model for future years.
In addition, the councils are awaiting further clarification on the implications of the proposals identified in the Resources and Waste Strategy. The next stages of the Strategy’s consultation programme are expected this year. It is anticipated that a number of the proposals could significantly impact on future kerbside collection services operated by local authorities and the materials that residents will present for collection at the kerbside.
RESOLVED - That the Joint Executive Committee noted the contents of the report