A £760,000 upgrade of North Devon’s recycling plant is needed if it is needed to keep up with the rate of recycling in the area.

North Devon Council’s executive committee is being asked to approve replacement plant and processing equipment at Brynsworthy Environment Centre when it meets on Monday (February 4).

A report to members from the council’s head of operational services, Ricky McCormack, said the existing equipment was at maximum capacity following the Recycle More project implemented in the summer of 2017.

Equipment breakdowns at the process hall reportedly occur approximately twice a week, with a more ‘major’ malfunction once a month. The breakdowns cost the council £44,264 in the first nine months of the financial year.

In his report, Mr McCormack said: “The Recycle More project has influenced our residents to recycle more than ever before resulting in the existing facility used to process the recycled materials not being capable of keeping up with throughput.

“With the rise in materials collected and the increase proposed the existing processing facility is not adequate. The existing equipment is now past its proposed life and replacement is required.”

If approved, it is hoped the new equipment will be installed by October.

Alternative options for the plant have been explored, including using a third party processor and even revamping collections again, although the latter would have a cost of £1.87million to implement and would cost an extra £560,000 to operate each year.

The new equipment would also see a reduction of staffing within the process hall, according to the report.

At a meeting in July last year, Mr McCormack advised councillors new equipment would be needed if the were to council roll out three-weekly bin collections outside of its current trial zone. No decisions on expanding the trial have been taken as things stand.

The reduced refuse collections were put in place for 3,400 homes in Forches and Whiddon Valley; Landkey; Bratton Fleming; Arlington; Shirwell; Goodleigh; Stoke Rivers; Chelfham; Challacombe; and part of Brayford.

Those areas account for 7.4 per cent of the district’s 46,000 homes.