Wednesday, 05 November 2014 11:04

Ashford sheds England's worst recycler score with fourfold increase

The first year of an extensively-revised recycling and refuse collection service saw Ashford Borough Council quadruple its recycling performance and shed the title of England's worst recycling local authority.


Ashford 2In Defra's 2012-13 recycling league table, the Kent county was placed last of 353 English local authorities with a recycling rate of just 11.88%.

Provisional data for the 12 months since the new service was introduced by municipal contractor Biffa on 8 July 2013 shows that Ashford achieved an average recycling, reuse and composting rate of almost 55%, over four times more than the previous year. This performance would have put the Kent borough in 33rd place in Defra's 2012-13 league table, a climb of over 300 places.

This achievement follows Biffa's implementation of Ashford's first alternate week collections of a wide range of commingled dry recyclables, and of residual waste, from separate wheeled bins.

These replaced weekly collections of refuse in sacks and of a limited range of dry recyclables in kerbside boxes, and were supported by weekly collections of food waste in kitchen caddies, as well as an optional subscription-based garden waste collection service.

Ashford's major service change was the first element of Biffa's £86 million, ten year contract with the Mid Kent Joint Waste Partnership comprising Ashford, Maidstone and Swale Borough Councils.

Councillor Jessamy Blanford, Ashford Borough Council's portfolio holder for waste and recycling, said: "This is extremely encouraging news. We have been delighted with how enthusiastic our residents have been about recycling since the new service and wheeled bins were introduced. To see figures continuing to climb after the initial excitement has died down is wonderful news for our borough.

"Obviously the current figures are helped by the amount of seasonal garden recycling being collected in the summer months, but that in itself is good news as we are equally pleased to see so many people taking up this optional service."

She added: "The latest figures also indicated that people are getting more comfortable with recycling, as the amount of non-recyclable material rejected at the recycling plant has also dropped, meaning fewer people are putting the wrong items into their green bins."

Ashford 1In the first 12 months of Ashford's new service, Biffa collected 20,508 tonnes of recyclable materials, comprising 11,909 tonnes of dry mixed recyclables, 3,917 tonnes of garden waste, and 5,127 tonnes of waste food, Nearly 17,635 tonnes of residual waste were collected in the same period.

After factoring in small amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment, waste fridges and freezers, and fly tips, as well as 380 tonnes of materials rejected by the materials recycling facility (MRF) that processes the district's recycling, Ashford's rate was calculated to be 54.89%.

The borough's best month was in June this year, with a recycling rate of 60.07%, just one percentage point better than the rate achieved (59.05%) in August 2013, the very first full month of the new service.

Biffa Municipal managing director Roger Edwards emphasised that Ashford's recycling uplift was "first and foremost down to its fantastic residents", adding that it also reflected a close and effective partnership between council and contractor.

Edwards pointed out that Defra's recycling table for the 2013-14 year, published this month, will not mirror these Ashford statistics. The Defra statistics cover April 2013 to March 2014, and therefore will include three months of Ashford's old service and the lower recycling performance of that service.

Ashford Borough Council- recycling & waste