WASTE bosses have begun rolling out their bid to boost recycling rates in Oxford by collecting leftover food from flats for the first time.

Residents of houses in the city can recycle food waste once a week, but the service has not been available for residents of flats until now.

People who live in small blocks of six flats or less will now also be able to recycle their food waste, while people living in larger flats will be able to do so from the summer.

It is thought that this will benefit a fifth of the city’s 150,000 population — about 30,000 people.

City councillor John Tanner, executive board member for cleaner, greener Oxford, said the council would be providing the caddies to flats where it is the landlord, while private landlords will be expected to pay for the new food waste containers.

He said: “We all know how smelly unwanted food can make mixed waste in the green wheelie bin. For some years householders in the city have benefited from weekly food waste collections but until now flat dwellers have lost out.

“Food waste collection is vital for people in flats who don’t have the option of composting food waste in their garden.

“We estimate that something like a fifth of people in Oxford live in flats so it is a big chunk of the population who have not been provided with this service before.”

Mr Tanner said the food waste will be collected and sent to either the large in-vessel composter at Ardley, near Bicester or to one of the anaerobic digestion plants, contracted by Oxfordshire County Council, to make both electricity and fertilizer.

Before the city council can start collecting food waste from larger blocks of flats it must take delivery of a new lorry.

Keith Cunningham, 65, who lives in a flat in Venneit Close, West Oxford, said: “We have had problems with badgers and wildlife so it would have to be secure.

“In our previous house we did have a separate food bin but people tried it for a while and it never worked.”

A city council bid for more than £1m to extend its food waste collection scheme to the city’s flat blocks was thrown out by the Government last year.

Since then the authority has decided to set aside £100,000 from its own budget to role the service out. The city council is aiming to recycle 50 per cent of its rubbish, but in 2012/13 it only managed 44.91 per cent.