Householders in Gravesham will get a new and easy way to increase recycling as part of a major reorganisation of refuse and recycling collections in the borough next summer. The proposals will be discussed by the council’s Cabinet on 7 October.

Under the preferred scheme food waste will be collected weekly in separate new food caddies along with residual waste in black sacks every week. Once a fortnight recycling will be collected in wheeled bins. This has been proved to increase recycling and reduce residual waste as well as limiting the mess caused by food waste.

A street-by-street survey is currently under way to identify all practical difficulties and not every property will be able to have the new bins. In those cases, households will continue to use clear sacks for recycling but the food caddies will be provided to every home.

A new recycling service for flats is being examined as part of the service improvements.

Bin collection routes are also under the microscope to ensure the new system is as efficient as possible with minimal changes.

When the new collections start they will be phased in from next summer and all households will be given advice on how to recycle more and how to use the new containers. It is hoped that most people’s collection days will not be changed.

The radical change will help the borough meet recycling targets over the next few years – raising the proportion of waste recycled from the present 24.5% to recycle or compost about 40%. Gravesham is 341st out of 352 council areas in the recycling league at present and is now has the worst record in Kent.

The council successfully bid for £4.9m from government to introduce the new scheme, finance a completely new fleet of vehicles to replace the aging dustcarts, and buy food caddies and bins. The grant guarantees the continuation of weekly residual collection until at least 2017.

A public consultation surveyed people on how they use the recycling scheme and how they wanted to improve it. The majority favoured collecting all recyclables in one container (co-mingled). The recycled materials are then separated at a materials recovery facility.

The proposal excludes the collection of glass which presents quality and technical difficulties if it is co-mingled with other recycled material. The council will be looking to enhance the existing glass recycling sites.

Council leader Cllr John Burden said: “We know that the people here want to recycle more and we are trying to make this as straightforward as possible while giving the maximum opportunity to recycle. One of the keys to this is the introduction of food waste collections separately. Removing food from the refuse sacks will have a dramatic effect on the problem of animal attacks on the black sacks and the rubbish strewn around the streets.

“We are also acutely aware of the problems encountered by other authorities which have introduced new collection services recently. We have learned from them. It certainly helps that our refuse collectors are directly employed by the council and have an outstanding record appreciated by the community.”

The council’s Cabinet will take its decision on 7 October. A full agenda will be available on the council’s website a week before the meeting.

The agenda for the meeting is now on the Council website

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