Ealing Council to switch to co-mingled collections

Ealing Council to switch to co-mingled collections

The London Borough of Ealing has agreed plans to move from weekly kerbside-sort recycling collections to fortnightly co-mingled collections in a bid to increase recycling rates and save money.

Proposals for the move were approved by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday (16 June) and are expected to be introduced in ‘late spring 2016’.

TEEP test ‘supports change to collection policy’

Currently, the council recycles about 45 per cent of its waste through its weekly kerbside-sort collection service.

This service requires around 98,000 householders (excluding those in large blocks of flats and housing estates) to place recyclable plastics in a white sack and all other dry recyclables, such as glass, cans and paper (as well as textiles, batteries, engine oil (in a plastic bottle) and shoes), in a green box. These are then separated at the kerbside by the council’s waste contractors, Amey.

Separate collections such as these are now a legal requirement, after a law came into force on 1 January 2015 that requires all local authorities in England and Wales to separately collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass, unless it is not necessary to facilitate or improve recovery, or technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).

However, the council cabinet agreed on Tuesday to move to a system where householders that have doorstep collections would need to co-mingle all recyclables into a wheelie bin, which will be collected on an alternate weekly basis with residual waste, which will also be collected in new wheelie bins (rather than black sacks).

It is expected this change will come about in ‘late spring 2016’, and the council says it could lead to an increase in recycling of around seven per cent.

Ealing Council has said it has undertaken a ‘full TEEP assessment’, which ‘supports the change to the collection policy’, but details of why the existing service, or another version of separate collections are not TEEP have not yet been released. However, cost is thought to have a large bearing on the decision, as a council report highlighted that the change could save the authority £1.7 million a year from ‘operational efficiency, reduced need for street cleaning and savings in waste disposal’.

The new wheelie bins will cost the council approximately £3.6 million.

‘Fundamental changes’ needed to further increase recycling

The council says that it hopes the new mixed recycling service will ‘make it easier for people to recycle and help the council reach its target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2018’.

Ealing Council Cabinet agreed to the proposals earlier this week after hearing that similar systems in the neighbouring boroughs of Brent and Harrow have seen recycling rates rise by 12 per cent and 22 per cent respectively following the switch. However, some critics have argued that rises in co-mingled recycling services do not account for materials rejected at sorting facilities due to contamination.  

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure, said: “We’ve taken huge strides forward to improve recycling, but it’s clear that we must make some big changes now if we want to further increase recycling rates. Last year, the council spent £10 million disposing of rubbish in landfill, which is a huge cost to the taxpayer and a waste of valuable resources. Introducing wheelie bins for mixed recycling will make the system much more straightforward for residents and will help us to achieve the target of recycling 50 per cent of all household waste by 2018. 
“Around 70 per cent of local authorities, including other London boroughs, have already switched to this sort of system and have seen their recycling rates rocket… I’m pleased we’ve agreed these plans to make recycling easier because we must make fundamental changes to the system if we are going to further increase recycling rates.”

Properties on ‘red routes’ (those without adequate doorstep space) and those living in large blocks of flats and housing estates will not be affected by the change. The council has said it will also assess properties that may not be suitable for a wheelie bin to see if they should be placed on ‘red route’ collections.

Find out more about the legal requirement for councils in England and Wales to collect recycling separately.

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