New £1.7m food waste collection service for 119,000 Stoke-on-Trent homes

Council chiefs are set to spend £1.7 million introducing new food waste collections for 119,000 homes in Stoke-on-Trent. The city council currently provides a 'limited' food waste collection service for residents via their brown bins, which now cost £40 a year.

But the government is bringing in new recycling rules that will require all councils in England to provide a free, weekly food waste collection service from April, 2026. The city council has been allocated a £1,665,000 government grant to purchase the vehicles and caddies needed for the new service.

Cabinet members approved the draw-down and use of this funding at a meeting yesterday. Officers expect to spend around £780,000 on six new 11-tonne waste collection vehicles, and a further £952,000 on kerbside and kitchen caddies to hold the food waste.

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The council is planning to ask the government for additional capital funding to cover the anticipated £66,790 shortfall.

Councillor Amjid Wazir, cabinet member for city pride, enforcement and sustainability, said: "This is something that the government is telling us we have to do, but I do think it is a good idea.

"Once it's introduced we will try and encourage residents to make use of the new service. It can sometimes be hard to get people to change their habits, but there are lots of people, especially younger people, who want us to do things like this because they care about the environment."

The government says its new rules, which will replace EU regulations from 2026, will simplify recycling, increase recycling rates and reduce waste. Food waste sent to landfill can release greenhouse gases as it decays, so increasing recycling could help the UK meet its net zero targets.

The city council's current kerbside waste collection service currently uses a blue bin for dry recyclables, a brown bin for garden waste and a grey bin for non-recyclable waste. The council turned brown bin collections into a paid-for subscription service earlier this year as part of budget cuts.

Stoke-on-Trent residents with brown bins can use them to dispose of certain types of food waste, such as fruit, vegetables and tea bags, but not meat, fish or bones. Some councils in Staffordshire, such as Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, already operate a separate food waste collection service.

All councils in England will receive extra revenue funding to cover the running costs of the service from April 2026. The city council estimates that its service will cost around £800,000 a year.

Stoke-on-Trent had a recycling rate of 34 per cent in 2022/23, which is below average but in line with the council's own targets.