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Leader: investment in our MRF will allow city-wide food waste collections

Published: 22 March 2024

Leader investment in our MRF will allow city-wide food waste collections Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of the Council

This week Council will be asked to approve an £8m investment in our Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF) which will allow the expansion of food waste collections to eventually include the whole city.

This is a major investment and one that we have to make because this facility is so important to Exeter and it needs an upgrade to increase capacity and allow it to continue serving the needs of the city.

Currently around a third of the city benefits from food waste collections which is a good achievement. But we simply can’t collect more food waste than we already do. That’s because we have reached maximum capacity under the term of the Environment Agency Operating Licence for the depot at Exton Road.

For us to collect more we need dedicated food waste bays and environmental enhancements and that’s what the investment will create.

If funding for the works is approved a contractor will be secured and once construction is complete and the operating permit revised, the food waste roll-out right across the city.

When I speak to residents on the doorstep food waste collections is something that they clearly want. There’s a strong desire to see this service rolled out right across the city and that is what we will do. Lots of people have been waiting to see this.

Where food waste collections have already been introduced the service has proved very popular. Between April and December 2023, more than 1,000 tonnes of food waste was diverted away from residual waste to anaerobic digestion, where it ends up as a soil improver and fertiliser.

Investing in the MRF will make a big difference to the recycling rate in Exeter. As a city we throw away one of the smallest amounts of waste of any location in the country. But we also need to improve our recycling rates, and this will help us to do it.

People will rightly ask where we will get the funds to do this when the Council’s finances – along with all councils throughout the country - remain very tight.

It will be funded mostly from CIL receipts which we have identified. This is money that is paid to the Council by developers to benefit the community.

I am so pleased that we have managed to identify this funding and we can get this work done. The MRF is a critical facility for Exeter - it’s where all of our recycling is sorted - and this £8m investment will bring some major improvements. It is very important and that is what we intend to do.

This is a key priority and something that we need to do - we need this facility to properly work for the city and this is what this investment will achieve.

As well as allowing the rollout of food waste collections to be completed, the project will ensure the MRF can continue to operate effectively for the next 15 to 20 years.

It will modernise the operation, allowing us to improve the quality of what we recycle, which increases its value, and also increase capacity to protect the operation against future housing growth in the city.

Exeter is growing all the time – it’s a place where people want to live because it is a great city with a great quality of life, as we all know, and it’s important that facilities like the MRF keep up with the growth of the city.

Elections in Exeter are now only just over six weeks away, on Thursday 2 May. It is very important that people vote to ensure their voice is heard, and I would urge everyone to ensure that they are registered and able to take part. Residents are also able to apply for postal votes which allows them to vote early. All the information everyone needs is available on the Council’s website.

Finally, I’ll end by wishing all of our sporting teams good luck for the closing stages of the season. Exeter City’s recent form is very encouraging, and it is great to see big crowds continue to back the Grecians at St James’s Park. Exeter Chiefs also have some very important games coming up, and I wish the men’s and women’s teams of both clubs all the very best for the remainder of the season.

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