Rising costs lead Manchester to ‘slimline’ bins

Manchester makes ‘vital’ change to slimline bins amidst rising costsManchester City Council has approved a move to slimline its residual collections in order to save on increasing disposal costs to councils working under the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA), meaning all Greater Manchester councils have now taken action to restrict residual waste.

The decision, made by the council’s executive yesterday (29 June), will see the current 240-litre bins replaced with smaller 140-litre bins, which will be introduced gradually between August and October this year, and collected fortnightly. A ‘robust approach’ will be taken to side waste and open lids to enforce the residual restriction.

The council is a member of GMWDA along with the eight other Greater Manchester councils: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford.

The GMWDA has a contract with Viridor Laing to dispose of its waste. The costs of this contract are shared between the nine councils and are due to increase based on inflation and population growth. By moving to the smaller bins, Manchester City Council has become the last of the councils to restrict its waste either by volume or frequency.

In the last month alone, Oldham and Salford Councils have agreed to implement three-weekly residual waste collections in search of savings. Trafford, Stockport and Bury Councils are already using reduced residual capacity services, and changes are being made to Tameside, Rochdale and Bolton Councils to reduce their bin sizes over 2015/16.

As part of GMWDA membership, the cost of waste disposal and recycling is divided between the councils by a waste disposal levy. This levy is expected to increase by 9.6 per cent in 2017/18 and 7.6 per cent in 2018/19.

With the projected changes, Manchester City’s levy would increase from £35.02 million in 2015/16 to £41.29 million in 2018/19 if its proportion of Greater Manchester’s residual waste stays the same.

However, as the levy is calculated using the share of the residual waste created by the different councils, the action taken by the other authorities means that without making a change to its own collections, Manchester City could have to pay over £45 million in 2018/19.

Although there will be no change to weekly food and garden waste services, to mitigate the restriction, residents will have the option to increase the capacity of their recycling bins free of charge. Bins will also be fitted with tags, which the council hopes will save money on replacing lost or stolen bins.

The move will also see the immediate removal of bring sites, as the council suggests there is a reduced need for them since the implementation of kerbside recycling collections. All black bins will also be recycled at no cost to the council.

New system details

The council previously reduced its residual collections to fortnightly, which increased its recycling rates from 2009/10 levels of 18.8 to 32 per cent last year, which still represents the lowest rate amongst the Great Manchester authorities.

This means it carries the highest disposal costs, and in 2015/16 spent £36 million on disposal. To save the target £2.4 million, residual arisings will have to be reduced by 7,000 tonnes, or seven per cent.

Currently 171,000 tonnes of waste are collected each year but only 32.8 per cent of this is recycled. Black bag analysis in 2011 and 2014 showed that over 50 per cent of waste disposed of in residual bins was recyclable. 

Recycling every item of recyclable waste collected in the area, the council says, would save an estimated £16.5 million per year. The proposed closing of bring sites will help save around £42,000 per annum in disposal costs as the majority of waste deposited there is landfilled due to a high level of contamination.

The change to the programme will require some initial investment. The total cost to the council would be £686,000 of one-off costs, including the addition of three recycling rounds to cope with higher presentation of recyclables and coordination of the 140-litre bin delivery. The replacement of residual bins will also require a capital investment of £1.72 million.

‘Vitally important we take action now’

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Councillor Nigel Murphy, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “When recyclable waste is not recycled in the bins provided, it harms the environment and also means that money is effectively being thrown away.

“It’s vitally important that we take action now to boost the city’s recycling rates. Doing nothing is not an option and the savings of £2.4 million per year made will help us to protect other council services that residents care about, such as road maintenance, leisure centres and play facilities for children.

“We know that the alternative option of moving to three-weekly collections for the existing black bins was unpopular with residents, which is why we have decided to maintain the current collection patterns, but provide new, slimmer grey bins for non-recyclable waste.

“We are confident that this change can be implemented effectively and will continue to work with residents to increase the amount of waste that is recycled in Manchester.”

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