A new recycling system in parts of the South Hams has ran into “teething problems” after repeated missed collections in “harder to reach” areas.
Recycling contractor FCC Environment is now “working hard” to collect bins that have been missed, after its lorries were unable to fit down narrow lanes.
Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams District Council’s lead member for waste and recycling explained that the new routes were driven to test that each vehicle was allocated correctly, but “as with any new service there are some exceptions that are not identified in advance”.
As a result, FCC is now re-allocating these routes to the appropriate sized vehicle “as soon as possible”.
The contractor is prioritising properties which have had repeated missed collections and asked residents “bear with” crews while missed bins are collected.
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The new system, which sees recycling and food waste picked up every week, has been operating in West Devon “successfully” for the last 10 years.
Some residents have praised the “great” new system as you can recycle more items, but others have pointed out problems with it – with some locals collections running a week behind.
One local said: “For what it’s worth, the new system in the South Hams is great in that you can now recycle tonnes more stuff.
“Yoghurt pots, foil, plastic waste etc, and they’ll take your empty glass too.. So it’s a positive change in theory, but obviously the council is having major trouble actually doing it.”
FCC has asked that residents follow council advice to place their new recycling bins and boxes “in the right places” for collection, to ensure that binmen can carry out collections properly.
A spokesperson for FCC said: “We have been questioned about the vehicles being too large for some areas, the vehicles selected to deliver this service are state of the art recycling vehicles and they are sized to maximise the collection of recycling across the District.
“We do [ask] residents to follow council advice to place their recycling bins and boxes in the right places for collection.
“We appreciate for some that this may mean changes to the way their recycling has been collected previously but we ask for your support on this.”
FCC said it remains confident that “once these hurdles have been overcome”, the service will “deliver all of the benefits promised at the outset”
Another South Hams villager said that their recycling was collected today, a week later than scheduled.
“It looks like [binmen] are having to walk to the hard-to-get places in narrow lanes where the lorry won’t fit,” they said.
“[It’s] not that far, 50 yard maybe, but that is a long way to lug two big green boxes, a bag of plastic waste and a waste food caddy, then take the boxes back to the house.”
Cllr Baldry said that all missed grey and brown bin collections aim to be collected within three working days.
“Whilst we complete the change-over to the new service for all residents, we are sorry to say that we cannot return for any missed recycling,” he said.
“We ask that residents keep it until the next collection. In such cases, residents can put additional recycling out in any sturdy container although the recycling still needs to be sorted in the same way as the other containers.
“Where possible, we ask that residents use recycling banks for items such as glass and paper.”
FCC Environment statement in full
On April 1 2019, FCC Environment began providing all waste, recycling collection and street and toilet cleaning services on behalf of South Hams District Council extending the company’s existing contract with West Devon Borough Council to deliver a range of benefits to residents in both communities.
The waste and recycling service in West Devon, which mirrors the system rolled out in South Hams, has been successfully operating for over 10 years and residents have responded well. The recycling vehicles now in use in South Hams have been in use in West Devon since March 2018.
The system, which was specified by South Hams Council and is considered ‘best in class’ by many other local authorities in England, has been carefully designed to maximise the amount of materials collected for recycling, reducing waste in the grey bin, which is what residents wanted to see. The system also delivers quality recyclate which means the materials will go on to be recycled into new products.
But behind the scenes this system has been far from easy to implement in South Hams and we acknowledge there have been teething problems which have resulted in some residents having missed collections and we are truly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
It is important to note however that we will be collecting from nearly 46,000 households on this new recycling service on a weekly basis. In addition we are also collecting general waste and green waste from nearly 47,000 properties on a fortnightly basis – so the levels of missed collections reported represent a small proportion of the total.
It should also be noted that the system was designed on the basis of recycling vehicles filling up once a day and being emptied at the end of the working day but due to the home working implications of lock downs through 2020-21 and residents saving recycling for the new system to launch, the vehicles can fill up, up to 2 to 3 times a day, so they need to travel back to the depot and unload each time but we are making our way through the implications of such unprecedented volumes.
We are working hard to collect from residents that have been missed and to collect from the harder to reach properties on our rounds and we are getting there but we would ask residents, particularly those who have had repeated missed collections, to bear with us at this time.
We have been questioned about the vehicles being too large for some areas, the vehicles selected to deliver this service are state of the art recycling vehicles and they are sized to maximise the collection of recycling across the District. We do residents to follow council advice to place their recycling bins and boxes in the right places for collection. We appreciate for some that this may mean changes to the way their recycling has been collected previously but we ask for your support on this
We are asking residents to bear with us in the coming weeks while these issues with this complex recycling scheme are ironed out and we remain confident that, once these hurdles have been overcome, that the service we have been contracted to deliver across South Hams and West Devon will deliver all of the benefits promised at the outset.