Wokingham Rubbish and Recycling Collections Changing

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Changes will be coming to Wokingham Borough’s rubbish and recycling collections. Starting from late Summer next year, residents will have their general rubbish collected one week and recycling the next, while food waste will continue to be collected every week. Residents will also receive a wheeled bin to store and put out their general rubbish, instead of the current system of using blue plastic bags.

At its meeting on Tuesday 21 March, the council’s decision-making Executive agreed to the changes to encourage residents to recycle more, reduce the amount of waste they produce, and separate out their food waste for recycling, all while making a saving of £1 million per year within two years.

Following Executive approval, the council will kick start the preparation work, aiming to roll out alternate weekly collections in late Summer/early Autumn 2024.  Before then, over 60,000 wheeled bins will be bought and delivered to residents, except for those living in flats or properties with narrow access, as they are excluded from the changes.

Changes will benefit those in need

Alternate weekly collections will help the council make savings of £500,000 next year and £1 million per year from the following year, and increase its recycling rate by 10 per cent, getting it closer to the target of 70 per cent in its climate emergency action plan.

Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “The changes we are making are important to help us ride out this cost of living crisis together. At present, more than 60 per cent of our budget goes to social care for people of all ages across the borough. Savings from these changes will allow us to keep these essential services running, especially when the demand for our social services is increasing.”

Extensive research, analysis and modelling shows that collecting rubbish and recycling fortnightly on alternate weeks will save £500,000 in the 2024/25 financial year and more than £1 million per year from 2025/26.

Borough-wide effort to improve recycling performance

“We need to increase our recycling rate and a borough-wide effort is needed to make this happen. Alternate weekly collections are the right way to go, if we want to become one of the top recycling authorities in the country. It will also help us reduce the amount of general rubbish produced in the borough, which costs up to six times more to dispose of than recycling,” Cllr Shenton added.

It is expected that Wokingham Borough will be able to increase its recycling rate by 10 per cent from 54 per cent and decrease the total amount of general rubbish by 20 per cent, after moving to alternate weekly collections. Data from DEFRA shows that the top 15 recycling authorities in the country all have fortnightly or three-weekly rubbish collections and a recycling rate of close to or over 60 per cent. In 2021, the council commissioned the independent consultancy WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) to carry out in-depth analysis and modelling on different ways to collect waste in the borough. Their findings have provided solid evidence on the financial and environmental benefits to move to alternate weekly collections.