Where does my waste go?

Here is the situation for household refuse collections in Teignbridge our local council.

It is the aspiration of all English councils to offer a consistent approach, and there is ever increasing legislation and change from central government. So further changes can be expected.

For full details of which bin and services see here. This is an overview of household collections for the 63,500 households in Teignbridge.

This service costs £1.05 the council per week (included in our rates), it requires approx. 40 vehicles and 120 employees.  The total waste collected is approx. 53,000 tonnes a year. Just over 1000 tonnes a week – the equivalent of 50 fully loaded articulated lorries every week. Reducing this waste is the number one priority for councils.

How much is recycled and where?

Recycling is vital to councils, as they seek to change from a waste industry to a resource industry.

Here are some figures from Teignbridge from last year. Teignbridge recycled and composted over  56% of all the waste it collected.

Black bins account for 44% of all waste collected, Green bins 30%, and Recycling Containers, Boxes and Bags 26%.

What happens to the rest?

Black Bin residual waste collected by the eight district councils in Devon is sent to energy recovery facilities (ERF) in Exeter and Plymouth which combust this waste at extremely high temperatures in a controlled environment to produce energy which is transformed into power and steam. Only small amounts of recycling centre residual waste which cannot be processed through these facilities are sent to landfill in Devon.

The bottom ash is used to make road aggregate, and the airborne particles known as fly ash, are filtered out and sent to Avonmouth to be processed into an inert building material.

Devon County Council has the responsibility for the maintenance of 58 closed landfill sites across Devon. These sites have been restored but require regular monitoring and maintenance. The sites are closed to the public and many have a wealth of wildlife due to their relatively undisturbed nature.

What is the council doing to help us do better?

Teignbridge realises that it needs to engage and work with all sections of society.  Our council was in the top ten of all English authorities in 2009 with a highest ever recycling rate of 57.4%. Since then, the recycling rate has fallen and plateaued.

For example, Food Waste is not always being recycled and is being included wrongly into the Black Bin, this misses an opportunity to recycle and creates a cost in processing with other residual waste. Across Devon this extra disposal cost is £6.7million and the recycling benefit lost is £1m.

This chart shows the % of each item in Teignbridge Black bin collections in 2021.  There is a clear opportunity to improve.

Teignbridge District Council resolved on 2nd March 2021 to support a 10 point action plan to increase the District Council’s recycling rate.