Black bins in North Somerset could only be collected every three weeks under new plans the council is considering.

The plans are set to be discussed by North Somerset Council’s executive in their meeting on February 7. A consultation would be carried out before the plans are brought in.

Currently, black bins in the district are collected every two weeks, while recycling is collected every week. But people are still throwing recycling out with their general waste and North Somerset Council is hoping this move could boost recycling rates.

Last year North Somerset threw away 40,000 tonnes of waste in its black bins — but 18,000 of this could have been recycled, according to council statistics, meaning that only 55% of what is placed into black bins should actually be there.

18% of waste in black bins is actually recycling, while 27% of waste in black bins is food waste. Almost half of the food waste being incorrectly thrown away in black bins was unopened and still in its original packaging.

Annemieke Waite, the council’s executive member for climate, waste and sustainability, said: “We want to make North Somerset a thriving and sustainable place, and we know many people are supportive and enthusiastic about recycling as much as possible, putting out their sorted recycling, including food waste, each and every week. 

“This year, we will need to spend around £5 million to dispose of black bin rubbish. Almost half of this waste could instead be recycled and generate an income to help pay for vital local services. North Somerset residents already do a lot of hard work to recycle but it’s important we do more.

“Not only will that save council tax payers’ money, it will also help protect our environment. We’re also keen to introduce the collection of soft plastics, such as crisp packets and vegetable packaging, to help local people recycle more.”

One tonne of black bin rubbish costs council tax payers £130 to treat and dispose of. One tonne of recycling, however, generates about £30 of income as it can be sold and made into new materials. Food waste in North Somerset is processed through anaerobic digestion to generate electricity and make compost. 

Three weekly bin collections are already the norm in the Somerset Council area, as well as nearby East Devon and Mid-Devon. Rates of recycling have increased for all three councils. The idea has been repeatedly floated by councillors in North Somerset before.

Plans previously went out for a consultation which found that 39% of people supported the move, with 37% on the fence, and just 14% opposed. But the plans were quashed in February 2022 when — then deputy — council leader Mike Bell said it was “not the right time.”

Now a new consultation could be launched on the plans. Ms Waite said: “We know there will be some households in North Somerset where a three-weekly black bin collection may not work. Our proposed public consultation will be an opportunity to understand the feasibility of these changes for people, particularly around any concerns about storing and dealing with waste.”

The council has a target of achieving a 70% recycling rate by 2030.