Resource Use

Bulky waste collections could increase recycling rates by 1.5 per cent

Local authorities could increase their recycling rates by more than 1.5 per cent and save more than £450,000 over five years in avoided disposal costs by introducing collections of bulky waste for reuse, according to Eunomia Research and Consulting.

The new data comes from the environmental consultancy’s updated Waste Prevention Toolkit, which is a set of tools built to help councils determine the impact of their waste prevention initiatives by allowing them to compare the effects and costs of different approaches. A new area of the toolkit now allows for a range of bulky waste collection options to be included in waste minimisation calculations.

Bulky waste collections could increase recycling rates by 1.5 per centEunomia estimates that a Unitary Authority of around 175,000 households has the potential to increase its annual reuse and recycling rate by 1.5 per cent by introducing a kerbside reuse collection service and a reuse option at its Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs). Over a five-year period, it could also save greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 538 cars off the road.

Research from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been used to inform the bulky waste collection options in the Waste Prevention Toolkit, with WRAP highlighting that more than 50 per cent of bulky waste items disposed of at HWRCs – such as sofas, mattresses and large white goods – could be reused, as well as 40 per cent of those collected at the kerbside.

Eunomia’s findings come as the government seeks to boost the UK’s recycling performance and resource efficiency, with the Resources and Waste Strategy, released before Christmas last year, highlighting the potential of reuse and repair to boost recycling rates and reduce waste.

Such efforts to capture additional waste will be crucial to the UK’s hopes of improving its recycling performance: the latest figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed that the UK’s recycling rate increased to 45.7 per cent in the 2017 calendar year, though this remains some way short of the 50 per cent recycling and reuse target for 2020 set by the Waste Framework Directive.

Commenting on the findings, Eunomia’s Specialist Technical Advisor Emma How, who is responsible for the Toolkit, said: “With local authority budgets continuing to be squeezed, the Waste Prevention Toolkit is becoming an essential tool to support waste officers in determining which waste prevention initiatives will have the most impact in their local authority and therefore which ones to invest in.

“At a time when many authorities are seeing reuse and recycling rates plateau, and with the 2020 recycling target of 50 per cent fast approaching and further increases required in future, the two new bulky waste initiatives will help officers to map out what their options are when managing bulky waste, and will allow them to demonstrate what changes they’ve made to work towards the 2020 target. We also know that residents are becoming increasingly aware that we can’t recycle our way out of the problem of consumption that is leading to us being swamped by waste.

“We hope this new section will allow more authorities to develop and improve their reuse services to save money, make environmental improvements and provide good quality items at a reasonable cost to their residents.”

The Waste Prevention Toolkit is available to local authorities on request from Eunomia for a small fee.

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