Extra 40,000 households set to benefit from food waste recycling service

Merton Council has given the go-ahead to expand its food waste service to a further 40,000 households.

The council originally won funding from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) to expand the food waste service to 30,000 households. On top of this, WRAP has offered the council extra funding to include a further 10,000 households to benefit from the new service by March 2011.

The expansion of the service follows Merton’s successful pilot with 10,000 homes across the borough. In the six months since the start of the pilot, the council has collected over 400 tonnes of food waste for recycling. Between June and September 2010 the council will roll out the service to 30,000 homes and once that phase is completed, the service will be extended to the extra 10,000 homes. Added to the 10,000 already receiving the service, a total of 50,000 households across Merton will benefit from food waste collection.

Results from a recent survey into what residents taking part in the pilot thought of the service have shown that 96% respondents were happy with food waste collection. Eighty-nine percent agreed the outside, lockable bins worked well and 79% were happy with the kitchen food caddy. Of the two types of kitchen caddies trialled, more people preferred the ventilated over the on-ventilated design.

The results also showed that, of the respondents trialling the ventilated caddy, 81% thought the starch liners were good compared with 75% of those with the non-ventilated caddy. Encouragingly, 86% of respondents agreed that the amount of waste in their black bin liners decreased and 67% said that their streets were cleaner since the start of the food waste collection service.

Once all 50,000 households receive the food waste collection service, Merton Council expects to see its recycling rate rise by another 5% to 38% over the next two years.

Instead of going to landfill, the food waste will be recycled into compost. Rolling out the kitchen waste collection services, Merton is set to make significant disposal savings with the current rate for composting kitchen waste at under £50 per tonne. This compares favourably with landfill costs of over £80 per tonne – over half of which is landfill tax – from 1 April 2010.

Merton Council director for environment and regeneration Chris Lee said: ‘I am delighted that we are able to roll out this food waste collection service to 50,000 households in total. Our research has shown that residents prefer the ventilated caddy which is less likely to produce smells, so that is what we will be opting for. Making it easier for our residents to do their bit for the environment demonstrates our continued commitment to cutting waste in the first place, and minimising the amount we send to landfill.’

For more information and to view a video about the food waste collection, visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/foodwaste

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Notes to editors

1. Of the 2,000 questionnaires sent to participating households, the council received 364 responses – 178 responses from residents trialling non-ventilated caddies and 186 responses from residents trialling ventilated caddies.

2. Food waste collections are made every week on the same day as normal refuse collection.

3. Landfill tax: The council has to pay a tax for every tonne of waste sent to landfill. The tax increases by £8 per tonne on 1 April each year, and is £48 per tonne from 1 April 2010. Merton expects to divert over 2,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill during 2010/11.