Early results of the three weekly waste collection trial in West Devon, show positive results, with an initial increase of 2.4% in recycling.

A family of superheroes wearing green capes and masks stand above a meter chart showing different waste containers with the title Supercharge your Recycling

However, due to the reliability of the results being impacted by the COVID-19 lock down, councillors have decided to extend the trial to enable them to judge its success outside of lockdown.

The overwhelming response to the three weekly residual waste collection trial by residents has been positive.

From 1000 households involved in the trial, the Council received an astonishingly low number of telephone calls and enquiries, which suggests that residents fully understood what they were required to do and the reasons for the trial.

In addition there were very few issues raised formally and those residents who responded to a trial survey indicated that they understood why the trial was needed and their responsibility to recycle more and waste less.

Cllr Caroline Mott, West Devon Borough Council's Lead Member for Recycling and Waste said: "The response from the public who are taking part in the trial has been fantastic and we cannot thank them enough for their continued engagement and commitment to it. 

"However, during the COVID-19 lock down, we saw an increase in the amount of waste and recycling put out for collection.  This is for a number of reasons, including more people cooking meals at home, a change in shopping habits, and many people using their lockdown time to have a clear out or sort through their lofts and garages.

"This has meant that we have not seen the expected increase in recycling and decrease in waste that we expected, instead we have seen a massive increase in waste and recycling generally."

Whole Borough figures

How much extra residual waste was collected during Covid (Apr-Jun)

  • 208 tonnes (10% up from 2019)

How much recycling was collected during Covid (Apr-Jun)

  • 304 tonnes (25% up from 2019)

How much extra food waste was collected during Covid (Apr-Jun)

  • 88 tonnes (17% up from 2019)

Overall waste up by 16%

Therefore, in order to fully assess the trial, Councillors agreed that it should continue until Spring 2021.

While many people are still at home and generating more waste and recycling than they did before COVID, it is not expected to be so extreme as during lockdown, as schools return and businesses find a new 'normal'.

Continuing with the trial will allow for a more robust set of tonnage data to be examined and taken into account for a final report to be presented to the Hub Committee in March 2021.

For further information, go to the 15 September agenda at:  www.westdevon.gov.uk/Hub 

Issued: 15 September 2020