Recycling improves 'leaps and bounds'

PUBLISHED: 10:04 17 April 2009 | UPDATED: 23:23 15 June 2010

EAST Devon's recycling performance is improving in 'leaps and bounds', according to figures that became available at the end of the financial year 2008/09 just before the next phase in an exciting expansion of the service is due to be launched.

EAST Devon's recycling performance is improving in 'leaps and bounds', according to figures that became available at the end of the financial year 2008/09 - just before the next phase in an exciting expansion of the service is due to be launched.Following the introduction of a new waste and recycling contract in April 2006, EDDC put in place a number of initiatives to improve the district's previously indifferent recycling record.Residents were keen to help, as demonstrated by EDDC's high ranking among English councils for low levels of household waste collected (eigth best on the country in 2007/08 and expected to be maintained or improve still further). The strategy was to convert this enthusiasm into a higher rate of recycling by giving householders a vastly improved collection service.A new contractor, new routes and a change in collection days were put in place first, in readiness for the phased launch of the improved service in August 2008. Dry recycling collections went weekly in the Phase 1 area - the Axe Valley including Seaton and Beer - and this now includes plastic bottles. Meanwhile, cooked and raw food is also collected weekly, with a fortnightly collection of landfill waste.The Phase 1 area is now regularly returning a recycling rate of over 50 per cent. This is a massive improvement on the previous district performance of 21.9 per cent.This one area, soon to be followed by others, has already lifted the district's average recycling rate to 26.1 per cent and this looks set to rise to above 50 per cent as the new collection system spreads across the district in the next couple of years.But perhaps the biggest success story of East Devon's fast-improving recycling service is the food waste collections that started last August in the Phase 1 area.This has seen over 1,000 tonnes of food waste collected so far, in only eight months. If food waste is collected at the same rate for the next four months, the annual total will be around 1,500 tonnes - and that's just for the Phase 1 area.With Phase 2 - Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary and surrounding parishes - coming on stream in June, the total will go even higher. In a ground-breaking process, the food waste is taken to a special plant in Holsworthy (see picture), where it is mixed with slurry and turned into gas to generate electricity for the National Grid.Another East Devon success story has been the recycling of plastic bottles, also introduced to the Phase 1 area. This has seen over 50 tonnes of plastic bottles recycled since August - an annual rate of nearly 70 tonnes.Commenting on the impressive results achieved for recycling in East Devon, Councillor David Cox, Portfolio Holder StreetScene, said: "This new progressive approach to recycling in East Devon means that we are improving our performance in leaps and bounds. This not only assists in enhancing our own standing in the recycling league tables, but contributes to a better overall recycling performance for the whole county. We must improve significantly, not only because we want to reduce the impact on climate change but to comply with tougher European targets."EDDC is very much part of a team effort in this. We can supply the caddies and bins, as well as providing the collection service, but it's our householders who deserve a big pat on the back for making the system work by regularly putting the right materials in the right containers."With Phase 2 being launched in a few weeks' time, we fully expect things to continue going from strength to strength. We would like to thank residents in the Phase 1 area for their patience as we ironed out some early teething problems. Hopefully the lessons learned will make things go much more smoothly as we roll out the new service to the rest of the district by 2011".

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