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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some commonly asked questions about our recycling service.

When will my new containers arrive?

For the 8,000 households still on the old recycling sacks collection, please continue to use the existing blue and clear sack service until you receive the new containers.

At present the rollout has been paused. This is to allow South Hams District Council and our Contractors FCC to sort out the issues that have caused disruption to some of the South Hams residents. We will notify you when we are in a position to roll out the new service to your property.

How big are the new containers?

  • Recycling boxes: 55 L capacity, 390 mm x 585 mm x 350 mm (width x depth x height)
  • Recycling sack: 70 L capacity, 400 mm x 400 mm x 450 mm (width x depth x height)
  • Food caddy (outdoor): 23 L capacity, 320 mm x 400 mm x 405 mm (width x depth x height)
  • Food caddy (indoor): 7 L capacity, 252 mm x 229 mm x 234 mm (width x depth x height)

Can I request additional containers?

We're sorry but we are not able to provide additional containers at this time. This is regularly reviewed and we hope to begin accepting requests soon.

If you only produce extra recycling on odd occasions you can put additional recycling out in any suitable sturdy container as a one off.

Please continue to sort your recycling as instructed.

I don't have space for all these new containers - what can I do?

Properties with no or very little outdoor storage can use just one recycling box in addition to the white sack and food caddy. You can alternate between box 1 and box 2 items each week and the sack can be folded away when not in use.

Recycling as much as possible weekly should reduce the space required to store your refuse sacks.

I have a clinical or sharps collection; will this be affected?

No, your collection day and container/sack will not change.

I have an assisted collection; will this be affected?

Your waste and recycling will still be collected from your agreed location on your existing collection day. If you wish to change your assisted collection point to accommodate the new containers, please use this form.

Request or Change an Assisted Collection

We will need to do an assessment of the new location, so this can take a few weeks.

Will my collection day change?

No, you should still put your recycling out on the same day, by 7 a.m., but you can put your recycling and food waste out for collection every week once you have received the new containers.

What should I do with my leftover blue and clear sacks?

Once you receive your new containers, you will no longer need to use the blue and clear sacks and we cannot collect any recycling put out in these sacks. You do not need to return any leftover sacks and we encourage you to use them for other purposes, such as storage in your loft or garage.

I use a communal bin store, will we get new containers too?

Yes, we have looked at communal bin storage areas to ensure we allocate the appropriate number of containers. The containers delivered will be shared in the same way the existing refuse bins are.

You may find the way you are asked to sort recycling is different to the information in the leaflet but we plan to provide signage to help make it clear.

I only use my brown bin for food waste; can you take it away?

Please hold on to your brown bin for now. Once we have finished the rollout of the new service we will advise how you can request removal.

My recycling is collected from a shared collection point away from my property; will this change?

You will still need to put your recycling in the same place to get it collected. Please mark the containers with your house name or number to make them easier to recover after collection.

Where possible, we will deliver the new containers to your property instead of leaving at the collection point.

Can I use compostable liners in my food caddy?

Yes, if you have some to use up though there is no need to buy more. We recommend lining your caddy with any bag, this could be a cereal, bread, salad or carrier bag, or you can use newspaper or kitchen roll.

The food is sent for processing at an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility which breaks down the food into soil conditioner and uses the gas (methane) released from the process to generate electricity. When the food is delivered it first goes through a de-packaging unit which removes any liners, including compostable ones.

The compostable bags are difficult to remove as they break easily and have been found to not break down enough in the AD process. This impacts the quality of the soil conditioner.

Why does cardboard have to be less than 75 cm long?

The new vehicles have a compartment for each material so they can be kept separate. The compartment for cardboard is accessed through an opening which is 75 cm. Please fold or break down your cardboard so that it is less than 75 cm.

If you have large amounts of cardboard or a piece you can't break down please take it to your local recycling centre.

Why should I clean my recycling?

Cleaning your plastics, foil, tins/cans and glass in your leftover dishwater has a number of benefits. It helps keep your recycling containers clean and odour-free and also helps improve the quality of the recycling.

Quality of recycling is so important when making it into something new and means the resulting products are high quality too.

How can I keep my paper and glass separate in Box 1; will you provide dividers?

You will not receive dividers for the boxes but we ask that you try to keep paper to one side and glass to the other. This is primarily to aid the process of loading the items into the vehicle. As the crews have to wear gloves it makes it difficult to separate items from one another.

Sorting and separating your recycling helps the crew collect quicker and reduces the time that the vehicle may have to obstruct the road.

Won't the reusable sack blow away?

The reusable sack is fitted with a weighted base. However, if it is particularly windy you can carefully weigh it down with a stone or brick. We would also recommend positioning the sack between your wheelie bin and your food caddy or recycling boxes as these are heavier.

The crews are instructed to put the sack within the boxes after collection to prevent the sacks from blowing away after collection.

How can I request stickers or a leaflet?

You should receive a leaflet in the post in February. You will also receive an information pack including stickers when your containers are delivered. All the information contained in the leaflets is also on our website though if you didn't receive an information pack and stickers you can request them using the button below:

Order Stickers and/or a Leaflet

Do the boxes have lids?

Yes, both boxes come with a lid. The white reusable sack has a Velcro lid attached.

Will you take shredded paper?

Shredded paper goes in box 1 but will need to be put in a loosely tied bag to avoid it escaping.

Why can't we have another box instead of the white sack?

We know that many properties struggle with a lack of outdoor storage. Some items need to go in a box for safety reasons, i.e. glass, or to keep the material dry, i.e. cardboard and paper

However, plastics and cans do not need to be stored in a rigid container and a sack is easier to fold away when not in use. It also doesn't take up as much space as a box.

I already have a brown caddy; will I still get a silver one?

Yes, all properties will receive a new silver food waste caddy. If you have a brown caddy you can hold on to it and use it for other things or you can recycle it at your local recycling centre in the hard plastics skip.

Can I use my leftover blue and clear sacks as refuse liners?

No. As we continue to roll out the new service we will still be collecting recycling in blue and clear sacks from properties yet to be moved to the new service. In order to not confuse refuse put out in recycling sacks with genuine recycling sacks we cannot empty grey bins that contain recycling sacks.

Why change the system we have at the moment?

While the recycling rate in South Hams is currently above the national average, the collection using blue and clear sacks is not without its issues. Under the existing service, South Hams residents use millions of single use plastic bags. The recycling collected is also heavily contaminated (i.e. with dirty or non-recyclable items) making it difficult and costly to process.

The new service uses less single use plastic and improves the quality of the recycling we collect, making it easier to turn into something new. By sorting materials at the kerbside the crews can also leave behind non-recyclable items which helps residents understand what can and can't be recycled.

Can I recycle other dark plastics that are not black, such as mushroom trays?

We can accept dark grey and dark brown plastics in the white sack. We specifically cannot accept black plastic as it contains a specific carbon black pigment which cannot be correctly detected during the mechanical sorting process. Other dark plastics do not contain this pigment and therefore can be detected correctly.

Many supermarkets no longer use black plastics to package items, such as meat and fish, and have opted for other dark plastics in order to improve the packaging's recyclability.

What happens to my recycling after you collect it?

You can read more about what happens to recycling collected under the new service here.

Co-mingled recycling service will go to the recycling facility in Plymouth. Nothing will be sent to landfill.

What is the Co-mingled service, and how do I know if I am on this type of Service?

The co-mingled service will affect 14,500 households. Recycling from these properties will be collected a vehicle with a single compartment and will be sent to Plymouth to be sorted before being recycled. We cannot collect food waste from these properties and you should put this in your refuse bin or seagull sack for the time being.

Please continue to separate your recycling in your boxes and sack, so that we can easily switch you back to the new service as soon as we are able.

If you are affected, you will not see a food caddy service when you enter your address on our 'Find My Collection Day' page.

We are also not able to collect batteries and printer cartridges from you at this time and ask that you dispose of these as you did previously. Please note, batteries should not be placed in your grey refuse bin.

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