Posted: 06.04.20 at 12:30 by Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter
Sweeping changes to Street’s kerbside recycling have been put on hold as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has been gearing up for its new Recycle More scheme, which will see more items be accepted for recycling via weekly collections.
The scheme – which will also see refuse collections move to once every three weeks – was due to begin being rolled out across Somerset in late-June.
But this has now been pushed back as a result of the current crisis, which had impacted on both staffing levels and necessary upgrades to the SWP’s depots.
Managing director Mickey Green said the virus had had a “serious and unprecedented impact on waste collection services in Somerset”, and that rolling out Recycle More on the original timetable was “no longer possible”.
Mendip had been the first district due to receive the new collections, which were due to be gradually rolled out across the county by 2022.
Mr Green said: “While we have the new collection vehicles, a successful roll-out of Recycle More needs much more than that.
“It needs new depot facilities, new recycling containers (the big blue bag), a major engagement and communications programme, sufficient management and staff resource to plan the roll-out in detail, stable delivery of all elements of the usual day-to-day service in the run-up to the service change.
“Covid-19 has impacted on all of these and therefore it is unfortunately not possible to roll-out Recycle More as planned.”
The SWP has already suspended deliveries of new recycling containers, as well as its garden waste collections and its Slim My Waste, Feed My Face campaign, designed to encourage more food waste to be recycled.
Work to upgrade its five depots – including Evercreech Junction for the Mendip district – has been delayed due to “staffing and supply chain issues”.
The delay means it will take longer for the scheme to realise its annual savings of more than £2 million, leaving Somerset County Council with a temporarily higher level of debt.
If the scheme is delayed by a whole phase (for instance, Mendip receiving the new collections in September rather than June), it would cost around £900,000 – though the scheme would still break even within the 2022/23 financial year as originally intended.
The Somerset Waste Board will meet in June to agree a revised plan for the roll-out of Recycle More – though this may change again depending on how long the lockdown continues.
Mr Green said: “Until we know when life is likely to return to normal, we cannot finalise a revised timetable for the roll-out of such a major service change.”