Upgrading Somerset’s waste services is moving ahead fast to take even more materials in kerbside recycling and generate electricity from the smaller amounts of rubbish left over.
The changes will involve aligning three multi-million pound contracts: for waste collection, rubbish disposal, and a new fleet of refuse and recycling vehicles, all of which currently begin and end completely separately.
Lining them up will make services more efficient, help drive recycling rates from 53% to 60% and beyond, and cut waste costs by many millions of pounds.
To accelerate progress, Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) and waste collections contractor Kier have jointly agreed to end their current contract 18 months early, on 27 March 2020.
That will allow timely replacement of the ageing fleet with newly-designed recycling and rubbish trucks that can collect more materials in future.
It will also bring forward tenders for the new “Recycle More” long-term kerbside waste collections contract, with extra recycling materials taken every week and three-weekly rubbish collections.
A phased introduction of Recycle More starting in 2020 aligns it closely with Somerset’s switch from landfill rubbish burial to the better option of generating energy from waste at a facility being built in Avonmouth by contractor Viridor.
SWP is accountable to the Somerset Waste Board (SWB), whose 12 councillors – two from each partner authority – take all major decisions, including the timing of changes and contracts.
SWB chair Cllr Derek Yeomans said: “Our services are a vital provision for every household; these coordinated changes will improve services for all residents in Somerset and are designed both to raise recycling rates and to ensure very significant economies of scale.”
Somerset Waste Partnership managing director Mickey Green said: “This is a time to take major steps forward, improving services for Somerset residents, while also saving them money and improving the environment.
“This timetable for investment, services and disposal ensures the maximum efficiency, greatest savings and the best possible waste solution for Somerset. It is a crucial part of our plan to support people in Somerset to waste far less and recycle even more.”
Julian Tranter, managing director, Kier environmental services, said: “We’re extremely proud of our work with Somerset Waste Partnership, where we’ve seen an increase in recycling to over 50%, and helped implement some industry firsts, such as tracking every tonne of recycling to establish an annual register of what it all becomes.
“To allow SWP to implement its ‘Recycle More’ strategy and invest in new vehicles, Kier and SWP have mutually agreed to end the contract with effect from 27 March 2020. We continue to work closely together to provide a high-quality service for residents and stability for our teams during this time.”