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Electric bin collection vehicles could be purchased by Swale council in revamp plans

The council has agreed on plans for a new waste collection team which will clean the borough.

Its current 10-year waste and recycling contract comes to an end in October 2023, where the local authority will introduce its new plans.

New electric bin vehicles could come to Swale
New electric bin vehicles could come to Swale

Hundreds of people living in the borough called on the authority to upgrade its ageing wast collection fleet over the next two years.

In a recent survey carried out by the council, 60% of the 1,400 residents who replied felt green technology was important as the authority considers revamping its bin service.

Currently, food waste is collected weekly while garden waste is picked up fortnightly and costs £40 a year for residents.

A council report says that electric vehicles are valued at £400,000 compared to £200,000 to current diesel or petrol ones.

Some reports have suggested that increased costs would be largely “off-set” due to reduced maintenance for vehicles and fuel costs.

'More than 60% of residents felt that green technology...'

Emma Wiggins, who is Swale council’s regeneration director, said: “It was agreed that carbon emissions were a key factor for any future contract, but affordability and cost analysis were equally important.”

Her comments were published in a report submitted to Swale council’s coalition cabinet.

Upgrading refuse collection vehicles to electric and hybrid would be “significantly more expensive” than the current stock, according to the dossier.

Ms Wiggins added: “The desire for bringing in green technology was reflected at the area committee discussions in late 2020.

“In the waste survey results more than 60% of residents felt that green technology was important as part of the next contract and only 8% rated green technology as a low priority.”

Cllr Julian Saunders was at the meeting
Cllr Julian Saunders was at the meeting

During a meeting last Wednesday councillor agreed the new contract will continue with alternate weekly collections of general waste and recycling.

Cllr Julian Saunders, cabinet member for environment at the council, said: “Keeping just one container for recycling is the simplest way to encourage people to recycle.

“Having separate containers for glass, paper, cans and plastic adds extra complexity to the process which will discourage recycling, and our recent waste and street cleansing survey showed two thirds of people want to keep the single container.

“Keeping food waste collections weekly is an obvious decision as almost half of local households are using it already – we just need to encourage more of the rest to do the same as using a food waste bin is easy and it really makes a difference environmentally as your food waste produces gas for energy and fertiliser for crops.

“The kerbside food caddy is collected every week, but if food goes in the general waste, it’s sat there for up to two weeks – why leave it that long?”

Cllr Eddie Thomas (Liberal Democrats) for Watling. Picture: Swale council
Cllr Eddie Thomas (Liberal Democrats) for Watling. Picture: Swale council

Swale council's cabinet also agreed to remain in the Mid Kent Waste Partnership with Ashford and Maidstone, as well as adapting its street cleansing contract to improve its flexibility and improve the service.

Cabinet member Cllr Eddie Thomas said: “The new contract is a chance for us to improve street cleaning services which is what residents told us in a recent survey. It also opens the door for us to reduce our carbon footprint by using more green technology.

“We are exploring options to reduce our carbon footprint such as the use of electric vehicles. These will be less damaging to the local environment and beyond.

“Being in a waste partnership with the other councils helps give us economies of scale to get more bang for our buck from the contract.

“It also helps us with greater resilience in case there are issues where we need to call on other resources.”

The tendering of a new contract will begin in September 2021 while an upgraded service is expected to go live in October 2023.

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