Initial plans for the roll out of food waste collection in Reading have been announced.

Five ‘early adopter areas’ – each covering around 500 homes – will begin the service next July ahead of the full rollout of the scheme in October 2020.

Every home in Reading will get a 23-litre food waste caddy.

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Councillor Tony Page, leader member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport (SEPT) announced the latest plans at Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) on Wednesday, November 20.

He was asked by a member of the public at the SEPT committee if the council could speed up its plan to introduce the scheme.

Cllr Page said “it is not feasible to bring the start date forward” because of the time it will take to purchase food waste collection vehicles and caddies, reorganise collections and recruit new staff.

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Food waste collected in Reading will be taken to the RE3 recycling centre on Island Road where it will be added to the food waste already being collected in Wokingham.

The combined waste will then be taken to the anaerobic digestion plant in Wallingford, 16 miles north of Reading.

Anaerobic digestion turns food waste into biogas which is fed into the natural grid and liquid fertiliser which is used to improve the fertility of agricultural land.

Why is the council introducing food waste collection?

Plans to introduce the extra collection were announced in September and are part of an ambition to increase recycling in Reading.

Just 32per cent of household waste was recycled in Reading last year – the council wants to ramp this up to 50per cent.

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Councillor Sophia James, lead member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said it is an ambitious target but she is confident it can be achieved if everyone works together.

RBC expects food waste collection will increase recycling rates to 43.5per cent and save £107,000 per year.

Other neighbouring councils have improved their recycling rates after introducing food waste collection.

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South Oxfordshire District Council has one of the best recycling rates in the country.

Wokingham Borough Council started food waste collection in April and achieved a 54per cent recycling rate in the first quarter of this year.

All EU countries have committed to a target of recycling at least 50per cent of household waste by 2020.

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Cllr Page said: “We have recycling rates that are too low.

“We declared a climate emergency and part of that is to get people recycling more.”

What else will change?

Current 240-litre black bins will be replaced with 140-litre ones.

Research by recycling charity the Waste & Resources Action Programme found this has helped to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill in other parts of the country.

RBC will also employ a new team dedicated to food waste.