If successful, a funding bid could see the amount, type and frequency of waste collection services in Leeds change dramatically.
Senior councillors are being asked to approve a £17.6 million bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that would allow the council to transform recycling services by collecting food waste from 254,000 Leeds homes each week.
When they meet on Wednesday 18 July members of the council’s executive board will hear about the proposals to keep 96,000 tonnes of food from rotting in landfill sites over the next five years.
If councillors approve and if the bid to DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Fund is successful, weekly food collections would complement a planned pilot to collect green bins more often from 40,000 Leeds homes. The trial is due to start this financial year.
The plans are part of a bold approach to up recycling rates across the city agreed by executive board in December 2011.
The funding on offer would pay for the new service until 2014/15. Money saved beyond 2014/15 by moving to fortnightly black and green bin collections, and from sending waste to the proposed incinerator instead of landfill, would be re-invested and allow food waste collection services to continue after this time.
As well as saving money and cutting emissions, the new collection service could create over 100 jobs and open up the potential for the council to generate green energy.
Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:
“This is exactly the type of service that residents have been asking us for, and this significant funding will help us to extend the food waste collections that we currently offer in our city. Although our recycling rates continue to improve, if we want to realise our ambitious recycling targets we must offer these enhanced services.
“Food waste makes up over a quarter of what we throw away in the black bins so if we can capture and deal with this waste separately, we can adapt our services to allow people to recycle different types of waste more frequently.
“Along with the incinerator, these are changes to our waste services the like of which we haven’t seen before. But we’re not starting from scratch. We have the experience of the highly successful Rothwell food collections behind us to act as a template for the rest of the city.”
Over 8,400 residents in Rothwell already have their food waste collected and turned into compost every week. Rothwell residents recycle almost double that of Leeds households with standard bin services – they have fortnightly collections of black and green bins, weekly collections of food waste and fortnightly garden waste collections at suitable properties.
If the council were to be awarded the full amount, the £17.6 million would be invested in the kit and staff needed to deliver the service by: buying 25 new vehicles to collect food waste and 254,000 bins and kitchen caddies for residents; providing a regular supply of bin liners; investing in the development of a depot needed to house the new vehicles and crews; installing another two new gas re-fuelling stations to ensure a steady supply of green vehicle fuel; support the planning of collection routes; and providing advice and support to residents in adapting to the new collection services.
It’s anticipated that over 100 new members of staff would be required to crew the collection vehicles.
The food waste collected in Rothwell is currently sent to a local facility that turns it into compost. But other options for treating this waste are being explored, opening up other opportunities for the council to reduce its environmental impact even further.
The council is investigating the feasibility of a facility for Leeds to turn food waste into fertilizer and biogas – potentially to fuel its own vehicles – through a process called anaerobic digestion.
This process would also avoid the current landfilling of food waste from homes and other producers, helping the council reduce the city’s emissions even more.
Notes to editors
About the DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Fund:
• Announced in Feburary 2012, the fund is designed to allow local authorities to introduce, retain or reinstate weekly bin collections.
• However, councils who had already announced they would move from weekly to fortnightly collections without weekly food waste collections before the fund was launched, are eligible to bid for funds to introduce weekly food waste collections – Leeds City Council falls into this category.
• Final submissions must be made to DCLG by 17 August 2012.
• A decision is expected in October 2012.
About new weekly food waste and fortnightly bin collections:
• Executive Board approved the trial of fortnightly bin collections for 40,000 homes in December 2011.
• The pilot will begin before the end of financial year 2012/13.
• No decisions have been made on where the trial will be. A further report will be submitted after consultation with local councillors.
• If approved, weekly food collections would start in the fortnightly bin collection pilot area with food waste collections being rolled out to 75% of the city throughout 2013/14 and the roll out completed in 2014/15 to 80% of all Leeds homes.
• No decisions have been made on the location of a new depot.
About the Rothwell food waste collection service:
• Since February 2010, over 2,000 tonnes of food waste have been collected and composted from 8,400 Rothwell homes.
• At the time of the evaluation, Rothwell residents were recycling 53% of their rubbish, compared to 28% across the rest of Leeds.
For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577