Fortnightly rubbish collections and weekly recycling runs are among the options being considered by Cornwall Council for its future waste services.

The council’s waste and recycling contract is one of the largest in the country – both in terms of the number of households from which waste is collected and sheer area covered in order to keep public space clean.

However the county currently has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country: Each household produces around 990kg of waste per year, which is not a large volume compared to other councils, but only 36 per cent of waste is recycled.

The current waste and recycling, street and beach cleansing contract ends in March 2020, and the council has started work to look at options for a new waste contract.

Councillor Sue James, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “In our residents' survey you told us that the environment in which you live is important to you, and so to help us protect our environment we need to reduce waste and increase recycling rates in Cornwall from the current level of 36 per cent being recycled.”

“Reducing waste and increasing recycling is an important element of us delivering value for money. This saves money and improves efficiency and means we have to spend less time, energy and resources dealing with waste – because there is less of it in the first place.”

As part of the contract considerations five options were put forward to the cabinet as a starting point for members of the overview and scrutiny committee to consider.

These include a continuation of the current service arrangements, with a potential increased cost of up to £1m a year, alternating fortnightly collections of waste and separated recycling materials costing between £0.5m to £1.5m more each year, or a fortnightly waste collection and weekly recycling possibly costing between £3.5m and £4.5m more each year.

Another option includes a separate weekly collection of food waste along with recycling, potentially costing £5.5m to £6.5m more each year, and the final option involves fortnightly waste collections alternating with a fortnightly collection of recycling which is not required to be separated but placed into one recycling bin, with a separate weekly food waste collection, costing up to £8m or £9m each year.

Councillor James continued: “This is just the start of the process, and we will be looking at best practice from other local authority areas and seeking advice from industry experts. Options will be considered by members and a scrutiny and overview committee, which has been set up specifically to look at this strategy, to ensure this is in the interests of the people of Cornwall.

“Our concern is multiple – what’s best for the environment, is efficient and what’s best for residents. There will be lots of further discussions before any changes are considered.”