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New waste and recycling service on its way

Published: 18/01/2023
Man putting bin in truck

Three Kent councils have signed a new waste and recycling contract with SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd, worth around £19m per year across the whole Mid Kent contract.

Ashford, Maidstone and Swale councils - who work together as the Mid Kent Waste Partnership - have awarded the eight-year contract to Suez after a joint tender process. The new service begins in March 2024 and will bring in new technology and industry improvements, whilst retaining large parts of the existing service.

Fortnightly collections of waste and recycling will continue across the three boroughs, with one wheeled bin for dry recycling, alongside the regular weekly food waste collections. The new contract offers the chance to increase recycling rates, improved efficiency of the routes, lower emissions vehicles and better technology to keep residents up to date.

The new vehicles are being funded directly by the councils to help save costs and will be more modern vehicles that use electric bin lifts. This will help reduce the consumption of diesel dramatically, helping lower the services’ carbon footprint.

Ashford and Swale will also see their street cleansing service delivered by Suez, whilst Maidstone’s will remain in-house. The new contract includes proposed improvements to the level of cleansing in rural and residential areas, as well as quicker response times to the removal of fly-tipping.

Cllr Matthew Forest, portfolio holder for the Environment, said: “The three councils have worked hard over the last couple of years to get this new contract in place and we’re pleased to continue working with Maidstone and Swale, and look forward to working with our new contractor Suez.

“We’ve been on quite a journey in terms of recycling in Ashford, with residents embracing the new arrangements and us becoming one of the best recycling councils in the country. This new contract will mean a better, cleaner, greener service on the way for residents.

“The new contract arrangements will have many benefits including: using existing contract staff, the same type of collection system, a more efficient collection schedule, clearer waste stream separation, improved textile and WEEE collections and a more environmentally friendly vehicle fleet."

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: "We're delighted that the Mid-Kent Waste Partnership has entrusted SUEZ to deliver essential services to their residents from 2024.

"With our experience and expertise in service innovation, SUEZ is well positioned to partner with the councils to navigate the upcoming period of transition, as the government implements its waste reforms to create a more circular, resource efficient UK economy.

"We look forward to rolling out modern technology and new low emission vehicles, together with improved routes and fly-tip response times, to help drive up recycling rates, drive down the carbon footprint of the services and provide an enhanced customer service to residents of Mid Kent."

The current service will continue to be delivered by the Mid Kent Waste Partnership along with Biffa Municipal Ltd until the start of the new contract and the Partnership wish to express their thanks to Biffa for the last 10 years of service delivery.

Summary of key benefits of the new service:

  • Most staff will stay the same, as there is a requirement for staff to move from one contractor to the next, therefore we will be keeping a consistency in the service.
  • We will continue employing local skills and people as the majority of staff are local residents and by keeping the same collection and cleansing staff this means they retain the local borough knowledge of collections and the area.
  • The collection system will stay the same as we will maintain the popular fortnightly recycling round, a fortnightly waste round, weekly food waste collections and the optional fortnightly garden waste services.
  • While the rounds will stay the same, it is likely that after the 27 March 2024, residents’ collection day will alter, leading to a more efficient collection schedule overall.
  • Food waste will continue to be collected separately but it can seem confusing with it going into the back of the same truck (albeit in separate sections). The new vehicle fleet has the point of food waste at the side of the truck, showing a clear separation between the different types of waste collected.
  • Improved textile and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) collections can be arranged when booking a bulk collection and also through roadshows, where a specific vehicle attends locations across the borough throughout the year.
  • Bulk collections will be re-used, where possible, with the new contactor partnering with the charity Demelza House, so that items that can be re-used rather than go to waste.
  • The new contract will help in reducing the council’s carbon footprint as the new vehicles are Euro VI which has lower emissions.
  • The new contractor also intends using a small number of electric vehicles which, combined with route and round upgrades amounts to a 16 tonne reduction in carbon emissions.
  • We have ensured costs are kept as low as possible by working in partnership across the three authorities to tender for the new contract.