New warning over food waste collections in West Norfolk

Food waste collections in West Norfolk could remain suspended even after a new bin contract comes into force next spring, borough council chiefs have warned. Officials from the authority and its waste contractors have been exploring potential methods of restoring the weekly caddy service, which was halted in April shortly after the imposition of the coronavirus lockdown. But a newly-published report says it is likely that social distancing measures will need to be lifted before that can happen.

Outdoor food waste bins and kitchen caddies Outdoor food waste bins and kitchen caddies

A new waste collection contract with Serco is due to come into force in West Norfolk from next April.

The company is already providing services in North Norfolk, which is one of the two other authorities involved in the deal, along with Breckland.

In papers published ahead of a council meeting next Thursday, the authority’s leader, Brian Long, said the contractors’ preferred option is to have a separate food “pod” on each lorry. But other options were then explored in response to social distancing concerns.

The service was originally suspended because social distancing rules meant the number of staff on each lorry had to be reduced and the authority has warned it will be “impossible” to reinstate the service as long as those measures are deemed necessary. Mr Long wrote: “Having normal RCVs (refuse collection vehicles) without a pod and a separate vehicle for food waste was my preferred option.

“However additional costs for this service were prohibitive and so consideration of this option has had to be reassessed. “Currently the default option of food pods will proceed with [a] fleet of trucks ordered. “If social distancing prevents staff being within the same cab we will have to keep food waste collections suspended and utilise pods for additional collection capacity.”

Although no precise figures were disclosed in the report, it is understood the extra cost would run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

During the suspension period, residents have been asked to keep their caddies so they can be used as and when the service resumes and bag up their food waste in the general bin.

Officials have also urged the public to reduce their food waste.

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