Plans to make Plymouth greener unveiled

Plymouth’s plans to go greener and keep the city’s streets cleaner are to be unveiled at Cabinet next week.

Proposals are being put forward for the city to move to an alternate weekly collection which will lead to a significant shift in recycling habits.

At the same time, clear guidelines will be issued to all households about how, what and when to put bins out.

From May next year Plymouth will join 75 per cent of all councils by going to an alternate weekly collection. This means that households will put out their recycling bin one week and their non-recyclable waste bin the following week.

The proposal, which Cabinet will consider on 8 November, will help the city achieve the Plymouth Plan vision of recycling 50 per cent of Plymouth’s waste by 2034, by increasing the current recycling rate by between five and nine per cent. It will also achieve total savings of £750,000.

Under the proposals, the service will also be modernised, using technology to become better co-ordinated, with waste, cleansing and grounds maintenance teams working in the same areas together to get the job done.

Councillor Mike Leaves, Cabinet member for the Environment said: “Hundreds of towns and cities across the country have moved to this type of service and they have been overwhelmingly successful in increasing recycling rates.

“We pride ourselves on being a green city, but it is fair to say our recycling rates have plateaued. We need to make our money work harder and have a better outcome for the city, its residents and the environment.

“We want to improve what we offer our residents but we also want them to play their part. This is why we will make sure there are clear and consistent guidelines so that we can all play a part in improving the city’s green credentials.”

A bin composition study commissioned by the Council last month revealed that 82 per cent of the city’s brown bins were less than three quarters full, indicating that the vast majority of bins would have room for more than a week’s worth of waste, particularly coupled with more recycling.

It also found that 20 per cent of brown bins contained material that could have easily been separated for recycling.

Under the proposals there will be a reduction of eight vehicles from the existing fleet and the size of the average collection round crew will reduce from the current three operatives plus a driver to two operatives plus a driver. The crews will be flexible, so if an area needs a larger or smaller crew they can be used to provide the most efficient service.

This change will enable the service to respond more flexibly to areas where a more tailored response is needed.

The project aims to address some of the ongoing issues experienced across the city where the use of bags, multiple containers and the lack of awareness about recycling and knowledge about when to put bins out has resulted in untidy streets.

Councillor Leaves said: “We’ve already installed communal bins in some streets in Greenbank which has reduced problems with litter and are doing the same in some parts of St Jude’s where residents have been frustrated for years about problems with litter and people leaving bins out.“

Cabinet is being asked to approve the recommendation to approve the business case which details alternate weekly collection and a raft of interventions to support increasing recycling activity across the city.

They include a review of access issues in some areas that cause problems for the crews as well as a review of enforcement activities to promote fair and effective enforcement for those who persistently ignore waste guidelines.

Key to the success of the new arrangements will be a comprehensive communications campaign to tell all 117,400 households across Plymouth about the new arrangements. There will also be renewed efforts to spread the recycling message across the city.

“I know there are residents and groups in Plymouth who want us to do more and we are listening. We want this change to herald the start of a push that the whole city can get behind. The more people who can help us champion the message around recycling the better.”