Residents in the East Hertfordshire and North Hertfordshire districts could see a drop in the frequency of their non-recycling bin collection from 2025, according to plans being drawn up by two local authorities.

The move would see resdiual waste, also known as ‘black bin bag’ collection, go from every fortnight to every three weeks.

Officers from East Herts and North Herts councils say a once-every-three-week bin collection would encourage more households to recycle.

The two councils – which look after waste collections in rural Hertfordshire as well as some larger towns, including Hertford, Bishop’s Stortford, Hitchin and Letchworth – are in the process of agreeing the terms of a new waste collection contract which will cover both districts.

Cabinet members from both East Herts and North Herts are due to meet at their respective council offices on Tuesday, October 25 to debate these terms and to give their officers permission to begin a Competitive Dialogue process to scope out a new contractor.

An introduction to a report on the changes reads: “The key drivers for the service changes are set in the context of the pending national Resources and Waste Strategy and the financial challenges authorities are facing which is exacerbated by inflationary pressures.”

Michael Gove MP introduced the national Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018 which aims to “move to a more circular economy” to relieve pressures on food and natural resources, and to manage the impact waste has on the environment.

Two of the councils’ proposed changes are to ensure food waste is collected separately each week, and to collect non-recyclable waste every three weeks.

This decision is supported by a study in late 2020 which showed 29.9 per cent of the waste in the non-recyclable stream in East Herts was compostable food waste.

In East Herts, the percentage of recyclable waste in the non-recyclable stream – including food waste – stood at 42.7 per cent. This figure rose to 43.2 per cent in North Herts.

By making these changes, the councils hope they will capture an extra 16,500 tonnes of recycling in a very best-case scenario.

They also hope it will reduce the amount of non-recycling or “residual” waste produced overall, pointing out that when the now-defunct Daventry District Council in Northamptonshire introduced a three-weekly collection, the amount produced dropped by 13 per cent.

Estimates show the three-weekly collection is set to mitigate increases in cost by £550,000 each year, but that the enhanced food collection could cost around £400,000 to set up, followed by £1.5million to run the scheme – which already exists in North Herts.

Other changes which councillors will debate includes reducing the size of non-recycling bins in East Herts from 240 litres to 180L – in line with the size in North Herts.

They hope to choose a standardised set of bin colours for households across the two districts, rolling them out in 2023.

Kerbside battery collection in North Herts is set to end, according to the draft plans, while the councils hope to take on a contractor which will be able to recycle plastic film from May 2025.

The joint arrangement, which began in 2017, covers 124,000 households and more than 1,920 commercial units.

The new contract is set to run from 2025 until at least 2033.