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Mid Devon aims to boost recycling income

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 08:25

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

North Devon HQ at Brynsworthy Environment Centre (Image: Roger A Smith / Geograph)

Equipment upgrades to reach targets

The £1.5 million a year made from recycling in North Devon could increase with efficiency improvements at Brynsworthy Environment Centre.

New baling equipment will process six times as much recyclable material for North Devon Council as the current equipment which in turn will generate more income.

The council is spending £3.7 million on the centre, which includes improving the layout for lorries and new accommodation for staff.

Once sorted and separated at Brynsworthy, near Barnstaple, recyclable materials are sent to manufacturers who make them into new products.

The authority says the centre’s extra capacity means it will be encouraging other authorities to send recyclables there and it will also be offering to collect plastic bottles from vending machines when a new deposit-return scheme comes into force in 2027.

The initiative is intended to cut litter by retailers paying consumers a small sum to return their bottles and cans to ‘reverse vending machines’. Presently just over half of the plastic drinks bottles bought in the UK are recycled, with the remainder sent to landfill.

North Devon Council’s policy development committee was told there were a lot of “ifs and buts” in recycling as the government keeps “changing the goalposts”.

Environmental enhancement officer Mark Kentell said he is looking at every avenue to increase recycling rates and make money from the materials, but the government says two-weekly rubbish collections should be the minimum, so it had to scrap plans to go to three weekly which may have increased recycling.

He said this is impacting other areas of Devon like Mid Devon which had brought in three-weekly collections in 2022 and places like Manchester has been operating successful three-weekly collections.

Currently North Devon recycles 48 per cent of its waste. The government has set targets of 55 per cent by 2025 and 60 per cent by 2030.

Mr Kentell said in future there may be a requirement to recycle tetra pack cartons and plastic film, but extra kit would be needed to process them.

“We can process more up here, but we are a bit concerned that there might not be so much in people’s recycling boxes once the new bottle plastic scheme comes in,” he said.

“We are putting our hands up to say we should be the collection authority that goes to all these new vending machines. We want to know how we can get to be part of that. We keep throwing our hat into the ring. Improving the recycling rate is not an exact science, but we are thinking about it all the time.”

Cllr Mathew Bushell (Ind, South Molton) said many families in North Devon would be thankful the council is sticking to two-weekly bin collections.

The work on Brynsworthy Environment Centre will begin in four to six weeks.

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