Glastonbury residents could face stiffer penalties if they don't put their bins out properly

By Tim Lethaby

13th Feb 2021 | Local News

A Somerset Waste Partnership recycling lorry
A Somerset Waste Partnership recycling lorry

Glastonbury residents could face stiffer enforcement action in the future if they don't put their bins out properly.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is in the process of rolling out its new recycling programme Recycle More across the county, which will see more items recycled at the kerbside and refuse collections moving to once every three weeks.

As part of its new contract with Suez, the SWP has adopted new enforcement policies which allow it to take action against residents who put the wrong materials out for collection or create obstructions for collection vehicles.

These include waste collection crews being able to photograph addresses which do not conform and 'tagging' recycling boxes if they are "contaminated" with the wrong materials.

Details of the new enforcement measures were published before a meeting of the SWP joint scrutiny panel on Wednesday afternoon (February 10).

Strategy officer Julie Searle said the SWP's overall approach to enforcement would not change, with the new measures designed to target the "tiny fraction of residents" who repeatedly failed to comply.

She said in her written report: "We have historically taken a light-touch approach to enforcement as we do not have robustly delegated powers to effectively enforce.

"We have relied on education and information to ensure compliance with service rules.

"This works for the majority of residents and businesses, but there is a small minority who refuse to comply, and this can result in negative financial, social and environmental impacts on the local amenity and community well-being, as well as increasing costs.

"With the start of the new collection contract, we have more options to identify issues and provide advice and support to residents, helping to resolve problems before they become serious issues."

Under the new contract, waste crews and SWP officers will be able to take the following measures against non-compliant residents:

  • Identifying, photographing and recording incidents of non-conformance – such as "contaminated recycling, excess waste and additional unauthorised bins"
  • Tagging containers, setting out what action the resident needs to take (e.g. not putting out materials which cannot be recycled)
  • Sharing this information with district councils, who can then contact residents
  • If a residence's bins are persistently tagged for the same item, a letter will be sent and an SWP officer will visit the home to provide advice and support

These new systems are also designed to cut down on invalid or wrongful reports of missed collections.

Ms Searle said that more than 80 per cent of residents whose bins had been tagged changed their behaviour without further action needing to be taken.

She said: "Our officers review which letters are sent out to ensure that we are targeting scarce resources at the highest priority issues, and are not taking actions which may lead to excess contact.

"Over the previous two months, we sent out nearly 600 letters surrounding additional unauthorised bins."

In a very small minority of cases, the SWP will be able to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to those who "persistently refuse to engage or co-ordinate".

Ms Searle said, however, that these notices would only be issued if there was "a strong, clear evidence trail of persistent problems".

Mendip became the first part of Somerset to receive the new Recycle More waste collections, which began on October 26, 2020.

South Somerset will be the next district to benefit, with the roll-out taking place on June 28, 2021.

The former Taunton Deane area (now part of Somerset West and Taunton) will have Recycle More in place from September 27, 2021 – though this could be pushed back to October 25 if there are logical issues.

The remaining 72,312 households in Somerset (comprising Sedgemoor and the former West Somerset area) will begin new collections from February 28, 2022 – though this could be pushed back to March 28 if it is required.


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