Winchester City Council has given the green light to a new £1.8m food waste collection service.

The council is purchasing nine 12-tonne food waste collection trucks and an electric Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV) that will be used by BIFFA, the service operator.

The nine council-owned trucks operated by Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil, cost nearly £1.34m, and are funded by the New Burdens capital grant.

As part of its food waste reduction policy, the government has said councils must provide a food waste collection service that starts by April 2026. The government is funding the purchase of 7.5-tonne trucks but will not fund any costs incurred to changes at the depots housing the trucks.

The council have decided to purchase 12-tonne trucks, to cater for the rural and urban nature of Winchester district as the trucks need to cover larger distances. 

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Cabinet chair, Councillor Martin Tod said: “Through a Winchester lens the challenges faced are quite different to other city councils.”

Winchester has a population of 130,000 and covers 661 square kilometres, Manchester has a 569,000 population covering 116 square kilometre area.

He said: “We have five times the area, they have four times the population so there is a 20-fold factor difference in population density across the two areas.”

To ensure the necessary food collection trucks were ordered on time, a decision had to be made by Winchester Cabinet on June 19, despite it being a pre-election period.

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An electric RCV for a new route will be purchased and introduced in Autumn 2024. The city council members welcomed being able to test an electric refuse truck to understand its daily maintenance and operating costs.

The council agreed to fund the annual revenue cost of £36,000 to cover the cost of the electric RCV from the existing waste budget. 

The council also agreed to foot the bill of £30,000 for Infrastructure changes at the depot to enable charging of the RCV once it joins the current 17-truck waste and recycling collection fleet.

The officer report said the council wants to build on its successes introduced in 2019 of kerbside glass collections, improved garden waste service, and the weekly kerbside collection of batteries and small electrical items that. 

Cllr Tod said: “This is an exciting step forward. We are going to introduce a food waste service that is reliable, high-quality with excellence. Working with residents…ensuring we have a service that meets their needs, the environment and the state of our planet.”