PLANS to test a weekly recycling collection in Mid Devon have been put on hold, saving the local authority £30,000.

The trial that the previous administration of Mid Devon District Council voted for before they were thrown out in May’s local elections has been postponed to allow further evaluation of the three-weekly black bin waste collections (Bin-it 123), which began in October 2022.

Members of the council’s environmental policy development group also voted to scrap “side waste” collections which are for extra materials left alongside main wheeled bins as they are taking up “unnecessary resource and costing more”, despite concerns that the move may cause problems in town centres.

The Bin-it 123 scheme, brought in to increase recycling and reduce black bin collections, has resulted in an increased recycling rate of 4.5 per cent.

The recycling rate from the standard fortnightly collections is now 59 per cent, and the aim is to increase that to at least 65 per cent by 2035.

Many top recycling local authorities don’t have weekly recycling schemes, which councillors heard that excellence in recycling doesn’t depend on a weekly recycling service.

Mid Devon’s recycling performance has significantly improved since three-weekly bin collections began.

Whilst residents have done “an excellent” job in recycling, Darren Beer, operations manager for street scene and open spaces, said there are a “persistent minority” who were holding back environmental performance.

He said crews have collected side waste for the past nine months to help embed Bin-it 123, but it is now hampering the scheme as many households are still putting recycling out for collection in black bin liners and bins instead of the appropriate containers.

“In looking at other local authorities’ bin collection schemes, very few, if any, collect side waste, as the practice directly contradicts the policy of increasing recycling,” he said.

By scrapping side waste collections “the council could accurately evaluate its effectiveness in achieving the necessary improvement in its recycling rates achieved and residual tonnages collected.”

Other issues for the council’s waste service include the government’s future funding plans for waste and recycling which will affect collections and are expected to cost the council £1.4 million if weekly recycling collections were to go ahead as the service would have to move to a larger site.

Cllr Ben Holdman (Lib Dem, Tiverton Castle) said: “How will the problem of extra waste be handled in the town centres? The likes of East Devon still has that problem.

“It will be particularly difficult for businesses and flats where people do not have the storage space.”

Environment and enforcement manager Luke Howard suggested education and awareness was key, and that social media would be used to get the message out.

He said: “We have a good team of recycling officers who get out and engage with residents and businesses and provide support and extra containers. We are working with landlords to find the best way we can help their tenants to recycle.”

He said there was a clear policy on waste and recycling and enforcement action was as a final step.