Three-weekly collection in Bury produces immediate results

Bury Council’s move to a three-weekly collection of household residual waste has already raised the recycling rate by eight per cent, according to figures released by the council.

Three-weekly collection in Bury produces immediate results

Just two months after the borough became the first council in England to adopt three-weekly collections of household residual waste (in October last year), the recorded recycling rate rose from a static 47 per cent to 55 per cent, the council has claimed.

The change was brought in as part of the ‘Bury Zero Waste Strategy’, which seeks to prevent waste, increase education and maximise recycling.

Targets set by the council at the outset of the new system included having a recycling rate of between 55 and 60 per cent by March 2015 and over 60 per cent by March 2016, while reducing carbon emissions and saving ‘more than £800,000 per year’ in waste treatment and disposal costs.

But the figures released by council, which provide the rate from December 2014, suggest that the first target was reached three months early.

Limiting residual waste bin space will cut council costs

According to the council, budget cuts of an estimated £32 million are to be made by 2016/2017 and prior to the change in system were paying £10.2 million annually to treat and dispose of residual waste.

Change was necessary, it said, after the cost of dealing with residual waste had increased by 75 per cent in four years. Recyclable material in residual waste bins, it added, amounted to an additional £4.2 million a year across the borough.

The council estimates that it costs £284 per tonne for the treatment and disposal of residual waste and just £61 per tonne for the composting of food and garden waste, while it actually makes £25 per tonne of dry recyclate.

By limiting kerbside collection of its grey residual waste bins to every three weeks instead of two, Bury officials hoped that households would be more inclined to utilise other collections to dispose of the estimated 75 per cent of recyclable household waste.

Collection of green bins taking paper and cardboard increased to every three weeks instead of four, as did blue bins, which take glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, cans and tins, aerosol cans and aluminium foil. Garden waste and food waste collection were maintained on fortnightly collections.

More English councils considering three-weekly collections

Since Bury became the first English council to introduced three-weekly residual waste collections at the kerbside, several others have implemented similar practices.

The cabinet of nearby Rochdale Borough Council agreed earlier this month to switch from alternate weekly collections of residual waste and recycling to three-weekly collections.

Rochdale’s recycling rate for the year 2014/15 sat at 34.5 per cent, much lower than the English average of 43 per cent, and by making both residual and recycling waste collections less frequent (while introducing weekly food and garden waste services), it hopes to increase the rate while delivering annual savings of £1 million.

Meanwhile, East Devon Council is, from September, to trial a system in 1,800 households that adds more materials (including cardboard and plastic tubs, pots and trays) to its co-mingled recycling collection whilst reducing residual collections to three-weekly. Recycling and food waste collections will still be carried out weekly.

Elsewhere in the UK, Falkirk and Gwynedd councils have also instated three-weekly waste systems.

Find out more about the Bury Council waste collection changes.

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