Residents in North Devon aren’t going to see the introduction of three-weekly black bin collections before summer 2019, despite a trial of the service being hailed a success.

North Devon Council (NDC) began three-weekly collections in a trial area at the same time as a district-wide overhaul of its waste and recycling service in June last year.

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, with the other 92.6 per cent still having more regular bin collections.

Speaking to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, NDC’s head of waste and recycling, Ricky McCormack, said it was unlikely more changes would be introduced before the council elections in May 2019.

He added: “We are pretty much up to our processing capacity at the moment, and we need to look at new plant equipment and new technology for that base and infrastructure if members wish to extend the trial elsewhere, or roll it out over the district.”

A report outlining the possible next steps for the service is due to go before the council’s executive in the autumn.

In his briefing to councillors, Mr McCormack said the percentage of household waste going to landfill from the trial areas had dropped from 77 per cent to 41 per cent.

The council spent £50,000 on communications and advertising prior to the service changes, a move the recycling lead said was valuable.

The council’s lead member for the environment, Councillor Rodney Cann said: “When we set out on this scheme I thought it was doomed to fail. I’m amazed at its success.

“If we decide to roll it out as authority-wide, I think we will have to phase it to deal with areas like Ilfracombe and Barnstaple’s town centres.

“It’s an exciting time for us.

“Soon food waste will go to a bio-digester and will convert waste to create energy.

“Nothing from our collections will go to landfill in 18 months time.”

The council collects around 60 tonnes of food waste from the district each week – up from roughly five tonnes before the service was implemented.