Cornwall Council says it will roll out fortnightly waste and recycling collection services this year – two years after a new £30million a year contract started.
The new contract was for rubbish and recycling to be collected fortnightly and for a new weekly food waste collection to be launched.
Cornwall Council awarded the £335m contract to deliver the new service to Biffa in January 2020 and the contract started in February 2021. Yet, more than two years on, the proposed new collection service has not begun.
Biffa is continuing to collect waste and recycling from homes in Cornwall under the existing arrangements with black bag waste collected weekly and recycling collected fortnightly.
The contract also includes provision for the collection of the council’s own commercial waste and for some street and public space cleaning.
However, under the proposed new arrangements Cornwall Council was set to provide every household with a wheelie bin – or a seagull-proof sack for those who cannot store a wheelie bin – as well as containers for food waste.
It is believed that thousands of wheelie bins are currently being stored in a building at Newquay Airport waiting to be distributed across Cornwall.
There have been a number of delays to the rollout of the new service, which had proved controversial after the council announced it was limiting black bag waste collection to fortnightly.
The council has said it needed to get new facilities in place to deal with the new collections.
Last year the council agreed to spend an extra £62m on getting ready for the new service including new vehicles and new facilities to process waste – particularly in relation to food waste.
However it has been claimed these facilities are still not in place and when the food waste service starts it will have to be taken to Devon for processing.
In a statement Cornwall Council said: “Cornwall Council is introducing weekly food waste collections and fortnightly rubbish and recycling collections to all households across the county. Before we can introduce the new services, upgrades are being made to Cornwall’s waste management facilities.
“The new collections will be rolled out in stages area by area. We plan to start the roll out later this year. Food waste containers and a wheelie bin or protective sack will be supplied to each household in advance.
“Each household will be contacted directly with more information about the new services before they are introduced in their area. In the meantime, recycle as much as you can. If you need more bags or boxes you can order them without charge on the Cornwall Council website.”
Colin Martin, acting leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Cornwall Council, said: “It’s a right old mess. Originally the council decided to collect food waste separately but then the Government said that all councils should collect food waste separately and as it was a new burden there would be money available to pay for it but that this would only be available to councils which were not already doing it.
“As a result Cornwall Council said they would delay what they were doing so that they could get the money being made available and then the Government said they wouldn’t provide that money – it was mixed messages from the Government which led to the delays.
“They have purchased hundreds of wheelie bins and they are paying for the contract but we have not got the new services which were meant to be provided. They don’t even have any food processing facilities in Cornwall so when that collection starts we will be putting it all into trucks and driving it to Devon.
“What we should be doing is building anaerobic digesters in key areas of Cornwall so that we can process that waste here and then use the benefits of energy which could be generated from that waste. But there seems to be a total lack of forward planning. It has been in the works for years now but nothing seems to have happened.”