The Recycle More plan was adopted by the council in 2019 as the household recycling rate for the district had plateaued around 46% range for several years. Recycle more aims to increase the rate to 50% by 2022/23.
In 2019, the council a declared a climate emergency which led to the publication of the council's Zero Carbon Roadmap in November 2019, which, along with the accompanying Action Plan, was adopted by the council on 31 March 2020. Recycle More forms a key element of the Zero Carbon Roadmap.
Prior to the food waste collection trial commencing in November 2019, households were not able to recycle food waste using the existing source separated, kerbside recycling collection service. Instead food waste was collected as household (residual) waste, increasing the amount of waste sent to landfill/energy from waste/refuse derived fuel.
As part of Recycle More, waste services wanted to divert food waste for reprocessing using either in-vessel composting or Anaerobic Digestion (AD). Furthermore, DEFRA’s "Waste and Resource Strategy" published in December 2018 expects local authorities to provide or have a plan in place to introduce separated weekly collections of food waste by 2023 (subject to further consultation).
Leicestershire County Council carried out analysis of North West Leicestershire District Council's household (residual) waste in September 2018. On average 34% of it was comprised of unavoidable food waste (e.g. banana skins, egg shells, fish bones) and avoidable food waste (e.g. food which has been left to go pass the use by or sell by date).
The current garden waste re-processor cannot accept food waste due to it being an outdoor composting facility; therefore food waste is not accepted. Instead an in-vessel composting or AD facility needed to be sought within the locality. Leicestershire County Council (the disposal authority) had a contract with an AD facility, so the food waste was directed to it. Here the food waste is processed to produce a bio-gas for electricity generation and the digestate, a by-product of the process, is used as a bio-fertiliser on local farmland.
We launched the food waste trial in November 2019 for 2,000 households. Unfortunately due to Covid we had to suspend the trial in March 2020. However when we resumed the trial in October 2020, we doubled the trial size to 4,000 households.
To date we have collected 243 tonnes of food waste representing a carbon saving of 182 tonnes than if the food waste had been sent to landfill. The participation rate is currently 34% with an average yield of 3.4 kg per household per week; this is without any communication interventions which are planned such as placing "no food waste" stickers on black bins and door-stepping those households not participating in the service to establish what the barriers are preventing them from doing so.
When we began our plan to introduce the food waste collection trials, we referred very closely to the Household Food Waste Collections Guide provided by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). This guide is very comprehensive in explaining how best a local authority can set-up a food waste collection service and the options available. We particularly referred to it concerning the following:
Receptacles - residents are provided with an outdoor food waste container which is 23 litres, there was an option to provide a five-litre or seven-litre indoor food waste container. We chose the seven-litre as recommended by WRAP to help maximise the yield of food waste per household.
Liners - we chose to provide residents with a roll of 52 compostable liners, based on them using one liner per week, but many use two to four, so the requests for a roll of new liners was higher than we anticipated. We had already chosen to provide liners after residents had used their first roll. If other local authorities choose to do this, ensure you have good stock control in place for liners. We did manage to re-order liners to meet this demand, so there was no disruption to the delivery of liners for residents.
Vehicles - one x 7.5 tonne dedicated food waste is used as the other three collections (refuse, garden and cardboard and recycling) are fortnightly, whereas this service is weekly so we chose a dedicated vehicle. We have trialled several 7.5 tonne vehicles from different manufacturers; some allow you to operate with a driver and two loaders, others with one driver and one loader.
Tactical scenario - we have undertaken this with a consultant based on data from the trials, so that we're informed regarding how to scale up the service as we are proposing to introduce collections district wide, pending cabinet approval. This will determine factors such as the type of vehicle to use, number of vehicles and the crew size.
Communications – we deliver leaflets confirming Christmas and New Year food collection dates, which provides an opportunity to engage with residents so we can tell them how well they’re doing - e.g. how much food waste has been collected. It’s also an opportunity for them to complete surveys about the service, predominantly online but with a paper version available upon request, ensuring we're providing an accessible version for those who require it.
First planned intervention – stickers on black bins, saying no food waste and also further info on how to request containers if they have gone missing.
Second planned intervention – door-step those households not participating in the service to identify barriers preventing them from doing so.
Participation rates – we would recommend instructing the collection to crew(s) to report on each collection how many properties per street are engaging with the service by recording the number of containers presented for collection. This will also enable you to calculate the yield of food waste collected per property.
Tonnages collected and diverted from landfill.
Yield per household (kg).