Sheffield to request 15-year delay on weekly food waste collections

Sheffield City Council has voted to delay mandatory food waste collections until its integrated waste management contract ends with Veolia in 2038 – 12 years after the government’s proposed deadline for all councils in England to provide such collections.

Earlier this year, the government outlined that by 31 March 2026, all local authorities in England must provide weekly food waste collection services to all households, including flats, under its new ‘Simpler Recycling’ plans. 

However, in a meeting on 15 November, Sheffield City Council’s Waste and Street Scene Policy committee voted to delay the implementation of weekly food waste collections until 2038. The council will now apply to the government for a transitional arrangement, which if approved will allow it to defer the requirement until the end of its Integrated Waste Management contract with Veolia. 

In a report that went before the committee, waste strategy officer Neil Townrow outlined three options for weekly food waste collections. 

Option one is that the council introduce a weekly food waste recycling service by 31 March 2026. 

Option two is that it applies to government for a transitional arrangement to defer the introduction until 31 March 2031. 

And option three is that it applies to defer the introduction until 31 March 2038. 

The report states that option three, which is council’s preferred option, will “protect the council from any negative commercial impacts the diversion of the food waste has on the energy recovery facility for the duration of the integrated waste management contract”. 

As part of its plans for mandatory food waste collections, the government has committed to provide local authorities with “reasonable new burdens funding” to help deliver the service. This will be based on a modelled estimate of costs and savings for local authorities that will result from the collections.

However, Townrow told the committee that the government has confirmed that the new funding will not cover costs associated with any claims received from existing long-term residual waste contracts. 

“Because Veolia have indicated that they would look to recover some costs, we have available to us the opportunity to apply for a transitional arrangement which would delay the introduction of food waste collections to a later date, no later than the end of the existing contract,” he said. 

In the report, the council said that option three will protect the council from “ongoing budgetary pressure associated with the high risk that the new burdens funding will not cover all of the revenue or capital costs associated with the service”. 

The council also said it recognises that only “marginal carbon savings” are associated with the provision of a food waste collection service when compared to disposal via energy recovery.  

The council said that option one, to push ahead with the separate collections, was discounted due to a “lack of clarity from the government as to the amount of new burdens funding to be made available”. 

If the transitional arrangement is approved, the government will contact the council on an annual basis to determine whether the implementation date of separate food waste collections can be brought forward. 

Lib Dem councillor Joe Otten, chair of the committee, said he was "disappointed" by the decision to apply for a postponement.

He told BBC Radio Sheffield: "Sheffield ought to be at the front and not on the rear of issues likes this. Realistically, it is unlikely that we will go ahead any sooner than we have to."