Stroud latest council to consider joining Ubico

Posted on: Thu, 30th Oct 2014

Waste and recycling services in Stroud – currently operated by Veolia – could move under the control of local authority-owned firm Ubico Ltd from 2016 under proposals to be considered at a council meeting next week (November 6).

And, as well as recommending that Stroud becomes a shareholder in not-for-profit Ubico, the district council’s environment committee is also proposing a number of changes to its waste and recycling services, including the introduction of weekly food waste collections and paid-for garden waste collections.

Stroud council’s current contract with Veolia comes to an end in 2016, through which dry recyclable material is collected fortnightly in wheeled bins or bags, with paper and card collected in a separate box.

Residual waste is collected every week in black bags, while householders can place pre-paid green waste sacks out for weekly collection at 60p per sack, although, controversially, this material is also sent to landfill.

However, the council’s environment committee is recommending that from 2016 residual waste is collected fortnightly, food waste is collected weekly in caddies, and an opt-in garden waste collection service is added costing £36 per household each year plus a one-off £20 bin payment.

According to the council: “Smells from fortnightly collections should not be a problem, because the food waste, which is the cause of the smelly rubbish, will be collected each week leaving only relatively inert waste to be collected.”

The council adds: “Instances of wildlife scattering rubbish by ripping into rubbish bags will also be reduced as bags will be replaced by wheelie-bins, although bags would still be provided for properties with restricted access or which do not have space for a bin.”

Dry recycling

Under the plans, the dry recycling collection system would not change, although plastic film and bags may also be accepted for collection “if economical to do so” and the council would become responsible for the sale of recyclable materials.

In addition, the council would sign an agreement with the Gloucestershire-wide Joint Waste Committee whereby it would receive an incentive payment based on meeting landfill reduction targets. According to council documents, current waste reduction projections would see the council receive at least £200,000.

The authority, which would also review its collection round routes and provision of recycling bring sites, will vote on these proposals for an “improved and cost-effective” service for the 51,000 households in the district at a council meeting on Thursday 6 November.

Ubico

Gloucestershire-based Ubico was created by founder shareholders Cheltenham borough council and Cotswold district council in 2012, with Tewkesbury borough council also moving its in-house collections under the Ubico umbrella earlier this month in the hope of saving its taxpayers an estimated £364,000 by 2020.

The environmental services firm also provides grounds maintenance services to Gloucestershire county council, while West Oxfordshire district council and Forest of Dean district council have also been considering moving services to Ubico.

Ubico operates from three main locations; Swindon Road in Cheltenham, Broadway Lane in South Cerney and Thamesdown Recycling near Cricklade. It also operates a horticultural nursery (Arle Nursery) at Old Gloucester Road, Cheltenham, and “small local depots at various locations”.

According to Ubico, the “growth of the company is seen as a key element in delivering efficiency savings (via economies of scale) and in delivering the strategic objectives of the Gloucestershire Waste Partnership”.

Commenting on the proposals, Stroud district councillor Simon Pickering, chair of the environment committee, said: “We undertook detailed research to understand what our residents really want and it showed that the vast majority of people in the district are keen to recycle more. Armed with this information we have been able to put together proposals for an improved service which will achieve this.

“In 2016 our existing waste and recycling contract comes to an end and this gives us the opportunity to make major changes to the services we provide. Against a backdrop of financial cuts we’ve come up with a solution which provides an improved and cost- effective service.”

He added: “The new system will allow people to recycle more and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The changes we introduced three years ago have already led to an increase in recycling and these suggested improvements will make an even more substantial improvement.”