Torbay residents are to trial a three-weekly bin collection in a bid to encourage recycling.

Torbay Council’s new strategy aims to reduce carbon footprint and boost recycling, as well as reducing budget pressures.

The new Resource and Waste Strategy was being presented to Cabinet on Tuesday (September 22) with a range of improvements to make the Bay cleaner and greener, with the priority of reducing source materials being produced, but also helping to generate huge savings that need to be made.

The council is committed to becoming a carbon neutral council and working with the local community, as outlined in its Community and Corporate Plan.

Increasing food waste collection rates which are relatively low compared with other areas will be one of the top priorities, while proposals in the consultation will include:

• an opt-in chargeable kerbside garden waste service – supported by more than 50 per cent of respondents to the budget consultation

• trial of three weekly residual waste collections – this aims to encourage recycling and will reduce the amount of waste that goes to the energy from waste plant and therefore reduces disposal costs

• charging for materials at the household waste recycling centre used in building projects – for example plasterboard, rubble and asbestos – this would bring Torbay in line with Devon which already charges for these items

• developing a program of activities to promote recycling resources across Torbay by educating our communities about the impact of wasted resources and what can be recycled.

Torbay currently has a recycling rate of around 40 per cent and the aim is to increase this to around 50 per cent over the next two to three years.

This will not only help the environment through a reduction in use of resources but will also save hundreds of thousands of pounds of disposal costs.

In neighbouring authority area Teignbridge, the recycling rate is 56 per cent while in East Devon it is 59 per cent.

Every one per cent improvement in recycling rate equals an extra 500 tonnes of waste so the aim is to recycle an extra 5,000 tonnes over this period which would save around £465,000 in disposal costs.

Cllr Mike Morey, Cabinet member for infrastructure, environment and culture, said: “We all know there’s a climate emergency and radical action needs to be taken to reduce our carbon footprint and increase recycling rates.

“In Torbay we are not recycling enough but there are lots of things currently being put in people’s waste bins that could easily be recycled and we have the data to back this up.

“Three weekly collections for non-recyclable household waste along with other measures to encourage people to recycle more should help reduce waste and boost recycling.”

Research carried out in Torbay in 2017 showed that 20 per cent of residual household waste is food waste which could actually be recycled, not only freeing up space in household waste bins but also helping the environment and generating income.

In addition from the same research, 30 per cent of paper in people’s bins could actually have been recycled and 26 per cent of plastic waste including bottles and other containers could actually have been recycled.

Cllr Morey added: “If we do not make the necessary changes, we will struggle to increase our waste recycling sufficiently, this will also affect budget savings leaving the authority with a deficit.

“In addition, following the council’s budget consultation earlier in the year which highlighted the reduction in our Revenue Support Grant from central Government from £42 million to £6.5 million in the last seven years, and increasing demand on high cost services such as social care, we identified that £10.5 million of savings needed to be found in this year’s budget.

“On top of that, in common with most other councils we have had significant cost and service pressures as a result of Covid-19, so we really do need to take drastic action.”

The Cabinet is expected to agree to put the new revised Waste Management Strategy out to consultation from September 28 to November 6, with a view to implementing some of the measures from December.

Residents will be asked for their views and responses will be fed back into the development of the waste and recycling services for Torbay.