EXCLUSIVE: Hounslow is to retain kerbside sorting of recyclables to ensure it is in line with the ‘philosophy’ of the EU’s circular economy strategy when its contract with Suez expires in October.
And, the West London borough could be set to award waste and recycling collections to its own Teckal-exempt firm Lampton 360 – pending a report on how the company will deliver services.
Hounslow councillors had previously debated whether to introduce commingled recycling collections following the end of its current contract with Suez in the coming autumn, joining other boroughs in West London to have ‘phased out’ source separation.
The change would have seen residents adopt a 240-litre wheeled bin for all recyclable materials, replacing the assortment of boxes and bags. The prospective benefits included faster collections and a reduction in the number of vehicles on the roads.
But, in a meeting last month (15 December), the cabinet decided to retain kerbside sort as its preferred method of collection to ‘future-proof’ the service against legislative changes.
The borough expects the EU to reinforce its ‘circular economy philosophy’ by potentially exerting pressure on the UK to separate recyclables.
Local authorities in England are already required to carry out separate collections of recyclable materials unless it is not ‘technically, environmentally or economically practicable’ for them to do so, as per the requirements of the EU’s Waste Framework Directive.
However, many councils have so far justified the use of single-stream collections using the TEEP justification, despite the threat of legal challenge should they fail to demonstrate their compliance with the law (see letsrecycle.com story).
According to a report presented to councillors, the authority believes it will still be able to reduce the number of vehicles collecting recyclables compared to the current service – while retaining kerbside-sort will also allow it to collect plastic bottles and kitchen waste.
To ensure an outlet for the separated materials, Hounslow will need to build a materials handling facility for the initial processing and baling of each stream. As its current facility at Space Waye is not large enough to accommodate this, the council will look to develop a new plant in the borough at an estimated cost of £3.5 million with construction to start in June.
Hounslow will meanwhile prepare to bring its collection services in-house, having voted to bring collections back under local authority control in September 2015 (see letsrecycle.com story).
If approved, the council will need to procure its own collection fleet, as well as construct an alternative depot to where its current vehicles are housed at Suez’s site in Hanworth. Working with Lampton 360, the council is also negotiating the development of a trade waste business with London Business Waste and Recycling.
Assuming the service will be managed by Lampton, Hounslow forecasts the new service will cost around £1.7 million by the end of 2016/17, but with savings of £9.2 million generated within the first decade. The capital cost of fleet vehicles and bins for kerbside sort amounts to £6.3 million.
Lampton 360 Ltd would need to be able to fully demonstrate to the council that it has all the requisite systems, policies and procedures in place to be in a position to manage the service and its employees and a developed business case should reassure the council on this before a decision is made.
- The benefits of bringing waste services in-house will be debated in-depth at the Remunicipalisation Conference in London on 28 January. For more information click here.