Green councillor Simon Pickering has expressed his delight at the improvement made by Stroud District Council in its recycling performance, moving from 150th in the rankings of local authority recycling performance to sixth.
According to the latest annual statistics on local authorities’ waste management, released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Stroud is the most improved district in terms of the recycling, composting and reuse of waste. The council’s recycling rate jumped from 45.5 per cent in 2016/17 to 61.2 per cent in 2017/18.
Pickering, who is the chair of the environment committee at Stroud District Council, said that he was pleased with the “brilliant news” and that the citizens of Stroud “really embraced the scheme”.
The rural district council in Gloucestershire introduced a number of changes to its service offering from November 2016, including co-mingled recycling now being collected in a 240-litre bin, with card and paper collected separately, collecting residual waste fortnightly in reduced capacity 140-litre bins and providing a separate collection of food waste.
Pickering stated that Stroud “will be looking at further improvements” and considering “three-weekly or four-weekly residual waste collections.”
Pickering also mentioned the greater flexibility the authority had over its services after its long-term contract with waste management company Veolia finished and the council moved to a teckal contract with Ubico.
This new contract ensures that food waste now goes to anaerobic digestion facility in Bishops Cleeve (operated by Andigestion) instead of going to landfill in the black bin, which has resulted in “an amazing uptake in food waste collections” of approximately 80 per cent.
These service changes have seen the council halve the amount of waste it sends to landfill, which Pickering said is “a real credit to the Ubico and the Stroud District staff”. Stroud citizens now “send only 258 kilogrammes per household per year to landfill, the lowest of any council area in the UK”.
Pickering attributes the success of the scheme to “keeping the system simple and easy to use” and by providing “simple but consistent communication” between the council and its residents about the changes to its services over the summer of 2016.
The council generated a great amount of publicity around the changes, using leaflets, local radio and social media, as well as communications in parish newspapers, to spread the message of the service changes.
Pickering continued: “Now we‘ve made the change and got the momentum, we really need some clear policy from government. The appetite is definitely there [to recycle more].”