Recycling changes

We have had a number of questions about the recycling changes and wanted to address each of these separately.

Reason for changes

Our contract with Biffa Waste for the disposal of dry mixed recycling comes to an end in March 2022. The waste disposal market has changed and companies in the UK and abroad that buy recycling waste now demand much higher quality materials. 

Disposing of dry mixed recycling in one bin creates higher levels of contaminated waste, which means from now on it would cost us much more to dispose of waste in this way. 

Dual-stream recycling, which sees paper and card recycled separately, increases the quality of the recycling collected and is more affordable to dispose of. The improved quality ultimately means more waste can be recycled, rather than being incinerated or sent to landfill.

Our joint teams researched many options and after much consideration and engagement we have chosen to go with the blue bag option. Locally, both Newcastle and Stafford have made the change and the system is working well. Stafford Borough Council has seen recycling contamination rates reduce as a result, meaning fewer loads of recycling are rejected. We also understand other local authorities in Staffordshire are intending to make this move along with us.

Recycling rates and green credentials

The move to dual-stream recycling should see local recycling rates improve, as separating out paper and card will prevent it from being contaminated, meaning more of it can be recycled. 

The new blue bags will be reusable and the trucks will collect all the recycling in one go as they have separate compartments. We lease our trucks, so this change has been factored into the contract. 

New service costs

Moving to dual-stream recycling will increase the cost of providing the service, although it would also have cost much more to keep the service as it was.

It will not affect the council tax you pay.

Staffordshire County Council will cover half the extra costs and the rest will be met by Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council who work together to provide the joint waste service across both local authority areas.

The changes to recycling are vital

The processing companies that take the waste that we produce need us to separate paper and card from plastic, tins and glass so that costs to process are minimised. 

In future, the council will be charged for recycling not put into the correct bin or bag.

In 2020/21 the cost of rejection was approx £120 per tonne so if a full vehicle load is rejected it could cost over £1,000. 

A second bin is the best option for rural and hard to reach places

If you live in the countryside, or your property is difficult to reach, we need to send a different vehicle out to collect  your recycling.

These vehicles cannot collect bags and can only collect bins.

The blue bags are long lasting and durable

The new bags have gone through rigorous testing both by our own waste management team and many other councils across the country. 

The bags are durable and long-lasting.

Putting another bin onto your property

It was only after considering many options that the new process was agreed.

We know that some properties will find it difficult to accommodate a new bin. However we know that the vast majority of people will understand the reasons for the changes and will find room to put the new bag or bin.

It is an unavoidable change due to changes across the waste disposal industry, and the demands placed upon us by our recycling partners.

Removing a bin that is not needed

The waste collection team are very busy, rolling out this new system, until the end of May.

If you need a bin to be removed please contact us by calling our customer service team on 0345 002 0022.

The council recycling volumes 20/21

Total dry recycling collected 2020/21
Joint waste 19884.4 tonnes
Tamworth 8305.1 tonnes
Lichfield 11579.3 tonnes

Contaminated recycling costs us £110 per tonne

In 20/21 the cost of rejection was £120 per tonne. One contaminated bin can cause a whole vehicle load to be rejected which could cost over £1,000.

Recycling not sorted correctly cannot be collected

Our waste collection team will now be checking every bin prior to collection.

Any bin or bag containing recycling that shouldn’t be in there, will be rejected and will not be collected.

The first time this happens, we will return to collect it within a couple of days. We know that learning a new way to do something can be tough.

The second time it happens we will reject your bag or bin and will only return in a month to collect, at your next due date.

After this time, if you are not able to separate your recycling we will not be able to collect it and you will need to dispose of it yourself at your local council recycling centre.

The changes will save £700k per annum

Approximately £167k on bags and £60k on bins as capital expenditure. In addition we have invested in new twin compartment vehicles at a cost of £160k per annum.

The new recycling scheme will mean that we will avoid paying a substantially higher gate fee for materials collected as a single stream.

There are other factors at play besides the gate fee but the net impact of the change is avoided expenditure (as opposed to a saving) of approximately £700k per annum for the Joint Waste Service. The split in avoided cost is 57% Lichfield and 43% Tamworth.

Weighted paper recycling bags

The bags contain a 450g weight in the bottom to prevent them blowing around in heavy winds.

Assisted collections are available

Bags can also be left by the side of the blue bin.

We offer assisted collections to those resident who are unable to move a bin or a bag to the presentation point. Applications for assisted collections can be received on line - assisted collection form or by telephone: 0345 002 0022.

Blue bags should be placed at the side of the bin or inside it

Blue bags should be presented to the side of the bin or within it but at the top so it can easily be removed by the collector.

The new system has been chosen after extensive research

Consideration was given to a number of different schemes. However bags are not suitable for glass cans and plastics because of problems of liquid spillage and broken glass.

The bags have been adopted by numerous other authorities

The chosen recycling methodology has been adopted by numerous authorities across the county including more locally in Stafford and Newcastle Under Lyme. We spent a lot of time evaluating their services before making our decision.

More than one bag will be available

If you need more than one bag, you can have this free of charge.

We are developing online processes for households to request additional bags but they can be ordered by telephone on 0345 002 0022.

Recycling not sorted correctly cannot be collected

We will have an amnesty period for the first two collections but after that the bin will be rejected because the card and paper will contaminate the glass cans and plastic stream which could result in a whole load being rejected at the recycling plant.

Waste recycling will be separated into two compartments on the collection lorries

The new vehicles we have purchased separate paper and card from other recycling.

Taking away additional cardboard

Paper and card placed at the side of the bin in tied packages will be taken away.

Please do not put these into plastic bags as these cannot be recycled.

This process will increase the quality of the recycling we collect

Other councils across the country have successfully adopted this model with the blue bags and recycling rates have stayed the same or increased, but the quality of the recycling has appreciably increased. 

The volume of cardboard you can store increases by cutting and folding

There has been extensive research both from other councils who have successfully adopted this scheme and our own team, that shows that flattening boxes results in increased volume of recycled material can fit into the bag.

Additional cardboard will be taken if left out with the recycling on the day of collection and if you need an additional free bag you can request one. 

This process will reduce the cost of recycling from the substantial increase quoted by the waste recycling providers for 2022/23

This process has been designed to counter the trebling of costs to process our recycling that would be imposed by recycling suppliers across the country.

It is only by separating paper and card, and increasing the quality of the recycling, that we can hope to manage these costs.

Purple bins are only for rural and hard to reach locations

  • The vehicles that collect the purple bins can only collect bins.
  • The new vehicles can collect bags and bins.

We have to carefully work out the route to ensure that we collect from all properties across the district in order so unfortunately no, the new purple bins are only for rural properties and those that have difficult access.

Your bin contents will be checked by the team

In future, the contents of each bin will be checked by the team as we have to ensure that vehicle loads are not contaminated with the wrong materials.

If the wrong material is in the wrong container, the waste teams will not be able to collect your bins.

There will be a two collection amnesty whilst people get used to the idea but there will be more stringent checking of bins as our waste recycling suppliers are demanding this or excessive charges will be incurred by the council.

Store your bag in your bin to keep it dry and secure

We recommend keeping the bag in the top of your recycling bin.

If any resident needs assisted support with their collection then they can request it.

Our team is here to help anyone with difficulties in lifting and moving any waste bin or bag.

Bag not received, but neighbours have theirs - what to do with recycling

Separate your paper and card from your other recycling and put it into a bag, or tape it up and place it at the side of your recycling bin on collection day.

We are prioritising delivering bags to those houses where bags are missing from the round.