Cornwall’s waste collection set for a big change

How household waste is collected is to change by 2020 when Cornwall will have be a new waste contract in place. Currently residue waste (black bag) is collected weekly, kerbside recycling is fortnightly as is green waste.

The change to how waste is collected is due to both EU and Government strategies on waste collection and recycling. The Government sets national targets of recycling at least 50% by 2020 with EU at 65% by 2030. The latter is likely to be adopted by the Government in the Brexit process.

In Cornwall, we recycle around 37% of waste, with the average kerbside collection of recycling materials around 27%. Though this widely – and I mean widely – fluctuates from town to town. Currently, Cornwall Council spends around £57m per year on waste management. This budget is set to rise to over £58m.

In getting ready for the new waste contract there have been a series of meetings and consultations, including some house to house surveys to seek the views of residents. Like most things, everyone will have an opinion. With those opinions in mind and the pressing need to reduce landfill and increase recycling, Cornwall Council has put forward a plan.

This ‘in principle’ plan for waste collection for 2020 as approved by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet, and will be subject to a full public consultation is as follows:

  • A weekly collection of segregated recyclable materials;
  • A weekly separate collection of food waste (carried out at the same time as recycling);
  • A fortnightly collection of residue waste (black bag) which cannot be recycled, limited to 180lt with no side-waste collection.

There is new waste strategy called ‘It’s in our hands’ can be found HERE. In this 16 point delivery plan, there are some bold targets and some welcomed changes that include Household Waste Recycling Centres (the dump to you and I) having a more re-use function, rather than just a dump.

Of course there are many – as yet answered – questions such; the type of receptacle for the waste, how many we will have, will it be a wheelie bin for residue and recycling and whether there will be any punitive approach to anyone not recycling and just throwing it all in to the residue waste.

Time will tell how this will all workout, but I for one welcome many of the changes as we can no longer just throw everything out in a black bag and think someone else will deal with it.

Of course, if manufacturers took more responsibility by trying to standardise and cut down on the multiple plastic types, including a reduction of materials used to make something more appealing, we would be a long way forward in cutting down waste and increasing recycling. Rather than rely on the resident to sort it and trying to make head or tail or which material can or cannot be recycled.


  • John Marshall

    I agree with these proposals and welcome the re-use mention. I’ve often been saddened at the sight of things on the recycling centre bins which could be refurbished and put into good use. This would do away with the need for remanufacture and consequent energy and other resource use. For example, there were no fewer than 4 relatively good bikes in a Helston bin last month.

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    “we can no longer just throw everything out in a black bag and think someone else will deal with it.”

    Is that not rather a generalisation Andrew, I do not just throw everything out in a blag bag and think someone else will deal with it.
    Perhaps it is Cornwall Council that should recycle more products.

  • Be great if they bring in food waste collection as I’m sure that accounts for a lot of what goes into black bags. I agree with you about the need for more recyclable plastics but even more important is the need to have plastic packaging vastly reduced. There is no need for much of it. Not sure that wheelie bins would work for those with limited storage facilities eg flats etc and wonder if we could continue to use the seagull proof sacks as hard to tell how much 180ltres would be in bags. Look forward to the public consultation. Thanks for keeping us up on what’s proposed.

  • Can’t really see anyone being paid to go through all the residue sacks to see if anyone has put recyclable waste in them, and then they’d have to prove from where they came. Someone might put their small amount of recyclable waste together with a neighbours, to put out for the collection in one bag or bin or whatever the container is, or they may take it to the public recycling bins. Just because someone doesn’t put out recycling individually doesn’t mean they’re putting in with the residue waste. Why not have one big community bin in each road, instead of lots of bags and containers. I don’t think recycling food waste is a good idea with the gull population, and where are people supposed to store all these containers. Compostable items maybe, but not food waste, some people might not have any food waste if they feed it to their dog. This is a tourist county with holiday lets!

  • Richard Rayment

    While I totally agree we need to recycle more, I also fear the council is going to leave the public with a rather large headache. I’m entirely sure that the issues raised by many individuals will be ‘taken into account’ then the council will march onwards with the plan – regardless of how poorly they do so. I almost guarantee that fly tipping rates will increase after the proposed changeover dates.

    Currently we have a poor system of recycling that almost punishes the user with its rediculous poorly designed bag based system, and a rubbish desposal system that is not much better. Locally in my village (not porthleven) there are NO bins for waste. People place their black bags on the roadside – which is already an unsightly scene. I can only imagine how bad it’ll look (and smell) with two weeks worth of rubbish.

    The cost of recycling garden waste is still pretty expensive, and to those on already low budgets, is a major restriction on access. Especially with an seemingly ever increasing council tax bill that just does not cover the service we want, or need. Yet – I can go to the top with the same waste for free. Reliance on EVERYONE to compost food waste is, frankly rediculous, and just not sensible. We don’t need compost in our garden- so what am I meant to do, just keep piling the small amount of rfood waste up in a rotting pile because bagging it is also irresponsible? There has to be a better way! The tips locally are not much better – £1.70 for a small carriable bag of multiple items that are able to be recycled, but large environmentally damaging man made and difficult to recycle objects are free? What complete idiocy!

    I too have seen the other systems councils around the country have, or better, elsewhere in the world. Cornwall is still in the past as a whole country with our recycling. Keeping the public in the dark because this is a difficult and technical subject. We need workable solutions, not cheap lip service which is probably what we’ll get until the proverbial wool is pulled from our eyes to reveal things have just got a lot worse, not better.

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    I think there are some really interesting and thought provoking comments on this subject here, but ultimately I suspect Cornwall Council will just opt for the most financially viable option.

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