Consultation 2013 (closed)

The proposals

The waste consultation is now closed. The responses have been considered and the proposals revised.

Read the results of the consultation.


In order to help the County Council meet its budget reduction target for 2014/15 the Waste Management Service is proposing a number of changes to the current service provision.

Further savings may also be found through the implementation of the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012, (a report on this will be taken to Cabinet in November), as well as through contract re-negotiations and re-tendering. In all, it is estimated that this will lead to £1.2 million worth of savings in 14/15.

At the same time the Council is looking at the potential to generate income, e.g. solar power generation on restored landfill sites and advertising opportunities.

Proposed changes to service provision:

Reduce opening hours at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC)
The majority (18) of the 20 sites across Devon are open from 8am-6pm in the summer and 8am-4.30pm in the winter. It is proposed to open these sites an hour later in the morning and close them an hour earlier on weekday evenings in the summer when the sites are generally quietest. Weekend opening times will remain unaffected, (see Impact Assessment for more detail). In addition, it is proposed that the HWRC sites at Holsworthy and South Molton will only be open at weekends. Both of these sites are costly to operate, have low footfalls and receive low quantities of waste. It is therefore considered that a weekend-only service is manageable.

End the temporary recycling centre at Lynton
A temporary recycling centre is provided four times a year for bulky household waste at Lynton. It is proposed to end this service due to the cost of its provision compared to other HWRCs across the county.

Charge charities for disposing more than 10 tonnes of waste per year
The County Council has traditionally allowed free household waste disposal to charities who register with the Council. This is not a statutory responsibility and the County Council now proposes to apply a threshold of 10 tonnes per year, above which the charities would have to pay for disposal. This will only impact on larger charities, some of whom are now undertaking house clearance activities in competition with the private sector.

Proposals for 2015/16 and 2016/17

It is likely that further budget savings will have to be made, and consideration will be given to:

  • Further contract re-negotiations and re-tendering of contracts. This includes organisations that deal with the composting of food and green waste, and manage the landfill sites and recycling centres in Devon
  • Extending charges to a wider variety of materials at HWRCs
  • Further restrictions on vehicle type at HWRCs
  • Further rationalising of the HWRC service
  • Review payment of discretionary Recycling Credits to third parties
  • Reduced expenditure on behavioural change work.

10 comments on “The proposals

  1. Liz Brookes-Hocking |

    I’m sorry to be writing after the deadline and hope you are able to read these comments:
    If you want recycling to be a significant part of dealing with waste, then don’t reduce the hours at any recycling centre. If you reduce hours, it sends out the message to the public that recycling is less important than black bag collections, which are never reduced, and they don’t really need to bother with recycling on a consistent basis.
    If you want objects to be re-used rather than the materials of which they are made to be simply recycled, then we need a specific and consistent system for re-use, which is something we don’t have at all at the moment. I’ve read someone else’s comments about changing from totters at the recycling centres to the French company that recycles materials on an industrial scale and with an industrial approach, keeping only a few items back for resale, as opposed to the totters who used to sell as much as they could. The French company’s approach to recycling works very efficiently in France, where, as you may know, re-use is dealt with by the national charity, Emmaus. Most people in France would never take a serviceable piece of furniture or household item to the recycling centre and just chuck it in a skip. It would be donated to Emmaus who have (in my experience) collection and re-sale down to a fine art so that a visit to the local depot to see what they’ve got and to pick up something useful at a VERY low price is a frequent and regular activity for local residents. As we don’t have a systematic equivalent in the UK, much goes to waste that could be re-used, and many serviceable items end up in skips. Better than landfill but not as good as re-use.
    EfW sounds good – so good, in fact, that the public perception could be that it matters less how many black bags we all fill as they will make free energy. As a result, there is less incentive to recycle household waste, such as plastic, bottles and paper, etc., as people are likely to believe that recycling these materials is expensive and all gets shipped off to China (or whatever the latest recycling-bashing story is), so why not use them to create energy locally?
    55% recycling rate is good in terms of the UK but far below other European countries. There is little consistency across the nation and not even across our county and I think Devon could do a lot better than this – if this is the county’s ambition. However, once you have your EfW plants, aren’t you going to need to keep feeding them with rubbish, whether it could actually be recycled or not? Your plan can surely not to be to increase recycling and re-use so successfully that these new plants receive increasingly reduced amounts of materials for incineration and operate below capacity. Or are they going to be the more acceptable alternative to landfill for the indefinite future? I’d be interested to know the answer.

  2. Zeal Monachorum Parish Council |

    With regard to the above list of proposals for 2015/16 and 2016/17, Zeal Monachorum Parish Council would oppose the extension of charges to a wider variety of materials at HWRCs, as they are of the opinion that this would increase fly tipping in the area. Councillors would also consider further restrictions on vehicle type at HWRCs to be unreasonable.

  3. Philip Talbot |

    The proposals set out in your waste budget review were considered at a meeting of Stoodleigh Parish Council last evening. Having regard to the budget savings that the County Council are needing to achieve the council’s comments on those issues potentially affecting its residents are as follows:

    Reduce the opening hours at HWRC – the council considered this proposal to be sensible.

    Charge charities for disposing of more than ten tonnes of waste per year – the council considered this proposal to be reasonable.

    Phil Talbot
    Chairman, Stoodleigh Parish Council

  4. Stuart Heslop |

    Why do Council ‘operatives’ – county or district – (the people who empty street bins in particular) always take a black plastic sack from the bin housing and replace it with a brand new plastic sack? Sometimes a part full bag, sometimes a barely used bag is tied up and thrown away. These sacks are obviously not recycled by the Council. Why not empty them into a bigger bin on the back of the vehicle and re-use the sack. Or simply empty the metal bin into the vehicle. Town centre and seaside bins will contain all manner of recyclable stuff – cans, bottles, newspapers.
    And / or (especially in high traffic areas) provide bins for metal, plastic, paper, other waste to encourage recycling away from the home?

  5. Stephen Carter |

    •meant to say “…and reduce landfill waste.”

  6. Stephen Carter |

    I totally disagree with the reduction in opening hours. When trying to reduce landfill by increasing ‘recycling and re-use’ the first suggestion on your list is to reduce opening hours?! But here we have not one nonsensical suggestion but two! The second being to actually close centres altogether! Seriously?! You simply must have lost your presence of mind with this one. Here’s what to do: cancel the obscene contract with Sita and give it back to locals – who can make a living and benefit our community here in Devon – and then do all you can to support recycling centres, education and re-use. It will save a few million in one go and increase recycling, reuse and landfill waste. It’s called “joined up thinking.”

  7. Clare Tyson |

    I would like to know how many hours the people who are making the suggestion to cut opening times have actually experienced working ‘in the field’. This type of work is tough, and the ‘quiet’ hours may have less visitors through the gate but this time is spent tidying and cleaning the site.
    You are also looking at this the wrong way round (notable in the short sighted options appraisal for Lynton). If recycling centres are quieter through the week, the question should be why, and how can we encourage more footfall.
    There should be at least one in every town, they are a valuable addition to a community serving not only as a place where people take responsibility to dispose of their own waste but as a place to bring and buy items.
    They should be promoted as a community asset, a key link in the ‘Reduce, RE-USE, Recycle’ mantra. I accept that charity shops serve some of this but people don’t take what they perceive to be junk to charity shops, perfectly usable items are still ending up destined for landfill.
    Closing sites or reducing the number of hours/days opening is counterproductive, we want people to recycle more not discourage them – create suitable dry storage facilities, introduce a coffee shop! The benefit to the community goes far beyond any waste management accountants book.
    I don’t understand why these sites are costly to operate for a council – the public are literally bringing money through the gate, and if the recycled goods are being sold, whether it’s a boot full of small items to a carbooter or a skip full of cardboard/rags to a dealer then the more that comes through the gate the more cost effective for hidden costs.
    A key way to reduce site costs is simple, RESTORE RECYCLING CENTRE TOTTERS! Totters don’t need anyone to pay them a wage. Totters earn their living through rescuing multitudes of items destined for landfill which are then resold, that is the incentive. A practice standing the test of time, and up until last year (before the French company Sita was given the contract to manage our recycling centres) was working perfectly well in Devon.
    Totters were doing a damn good job of keeping recycling rates up, the incentive was there. Now Sita has introduced paid employees on minimum wage and we also have the ridiculous scenario of ‘throw it over the top’ skips. No access allowed, therefore no retrieval. Meaning perfectly usable household items are been carted off to landfill, at cost not only to the environment but now it seems the taxpayer. You want to save money? then give management control back to local totters who’s business it is to know what can be recycled, not big companies who outbid the small local teams and fail to deliver.
    I visit Holsworthy or Okehampton recycling depending on which way i travel. I tie in visits with other journey’s I make, I don’t do special trips. Where would the next facility be if Holsworthy closes? It will be a huge shame to lose Holsworthy, it serves a wide rural catchment area and also serves people who live on low incomes who need to supplement their income whether it be saving money on a tin of paint, to picking up a bike that can be repaired and sold, to saving the weekly rubbish collection van from extra trips.
    I can see where the council is leading the trend to diminish the community recycling centre – by making them less available they disappear from peoples conscious, this means less responsibility as the creation of more adhoc recycling schemes develop, which is happening now with the freecycle network. People will take more waste to the small supermarket sites, and the council will create large centralised hubs fed by door collections where waste is then transported to incinerators. This may seem very cost effective on paper but at a huge loss to the community as a whole.

  8. peter hames |

    Reluctantly I agree to reduction of hours at recycling centres but am not happy about reducing or abolishing recycling credits. I do think, though, that there is great potential for creating an income stream from recyclable material if the County invested in mechanical/biological sorting systems rather than the incredibly costly and environmentally harmful option of Energy from Waste plants. This could provide local employment too, I also think there should be a charge for black bag ‘waste’ in order to encourage more recycling.

  9. Paul Groom |

    While I agree that the council must meet the demands of these seemingly financially constrained times, I’m not entirely convinced that the proposal to close the Holsworthy and South Molton HWRC’s on weekdays is as sensible as it may seem. It should be remembered that both of these centres serve a large but geographically scattered community as well as the smaller towns. I’m sure that the majority of folk in the area have enough to do at the weekends other than plan in a trip to the HWRC to join a queue of other recyclers. The benefit of having a recycling centre is that we reduce waste significantly by proper and appropriate management of waste. It has always been seen and lauded by the council as a means to responsible waste disposal. In my opinion the weekday closures will lead to an escalation in fly tipping (already visible due to the introduction of charges for certain waste types). While it is easy to say that the council would prosecute any offenders for fly tipping, I doubt we have seen any noticeable increases in judicial actions. There is no visible benefit to the council tax paying public in this proposal other than it will insignificantly contribute to a financial saving. What will be the outcome for the staff at the recycling centres? If they are to be laid off they will then become dependent on the state for social security. There are many implications in this proposal that need to be thought through.

  10. Yvette jones |

    I support the councils proposal to reduce the weekly opening hours of the recycling centres….a sensible way of reducing costs.
    I also feel the proposal to charge charities for waste over a certain amount has merits though would want to be reassured that smaller charities are not made unviable through these extra charges.
    Several times recently when visiting the centre at pinhoe I have observed builders with white vans full to th brim of rubbish clearly from a building site….could there not be a charge for licensing contractors. and charging extra after so many visits?