Mid Devon considers major new recycling plan

Mid Devon District Council wants to increase recycling rates
-Credit: (Image: Pixabay)

Mid Devon District Council is set to explore expanding recycling initiatives to include soft plastics, nappy waste, and metal pots and pans.

This initiative is part of an effort to meet the council’s target of a 65% recycling rate by 2035, though budget constraints remain a concern.

Speaking at the Service Delivery & Continuous Improvement Policy Development Group meeting of Mid Devon on Monday, June 24, Councillor Joshua Wright (Silverton, Liberal Democrat), cabinet member for service delivery and continuous improvement, emphasised the significance of the initiative, saying: “Over the last year, I've been working very hard on side waste, and we've seen significant improvements.”

He noted upcoming government legislation that will impact recycling strategies, adding: “It’s going to be lovely to start working towards the next phase of improving and identifying areas where we can have significant improvements, bearing in mind the cost implications.”

Councillor Luke Taylor (Bradninch, Liberal Democrats) called for metal pots and pans in the recycling program. Currently, Mid Devon’s waste service does not collect these items, and residents are encouraged to donate them to charity or take them to local recycling centres.

Cllr Taylor expressed the need for a more convenient solution: “I’ve probably been pushing for the recycling collection of metal pots and pans for the last few years. A trial might show that we can still increase our recycling figure.

“With this sort of recycling, I sometimes think that people probably put it in a black bag unless they make a special trip to the recycling centre. It's almost a 45-minute round trip to a recycling centre if I want to put one saucepan in which we perhaps overcooked something.

“It would be great if Mid Devon was one of the pioneers for these schemes rather than following what other people do.”

Jane Lock (Canonsleigh, Liberal Democrat) focused on recycling nappies, advocating for reusable nappies as the first option for parents.

“A single nappy in landfill takes 500 years to biodegrade,” she said. “That's 20 generations and would actually take us back to before Henry the Eighth was on the throne. They'd still be around if they had disposable nappies at that point.

“I hear about pots and pans, but I would put in for finding ways of recycling nappies. The thought that they can go into composite deck boards and asphalt for roads is quite exciting, and I hope we can look at that with interest and make it a priority for this council.”

The council’s discussion also touched on the potential benefits of these new recycling initiatives, including cost savings and environmental sustainability.

Councillor Claudette Harrower (Westexe, Liberal Democrat) suggested a scheme for collecting pots and pans, where residents could leave items on the sidewalk for pickup, while Councillor Martin Binks (Yeo, Conservative) mentioned similar recycling practices in France and Portugal.

Cllr Wright concluded: “If we can start to be very ambitious, we may have to invest more money, but in the long term, we could benefit from it—waste streams to bring money back in.

“I'm urging you to find out about those schemes. I hear of schemes in America only on a small scale, but can we be the people who model this for the whole country? It's that sort of ambition that we're looking for as this administration moves forward.”

The council has already seen positive results since introducing the Bin-it 123 program, ranking nationally in the top ten per cent of councils for recycling and reducing residual tonnage.

Mathew Page, head of people, performance, and waste, reported a significant reduction in side waste and a high compliance rate, though challenges remain in some district areas. The service plans to hold drop-in surgeries for parish, town and district councillors this month.