Three-weekly collections boost Anglesey recycling rate by 10 per cent
The introduction of three-weekly residual waste collections and providing residents with more opportunities to recycle has seen Isle of Anglesey County Council achieve a recycling rate of 66 per cent for 2016/17, according to provisional data, up an entire 10 per cent on last year.
Anglesey’s increase in its recycling rate has seen the island council in North Wales comfortably beat its 2016/17 target recycling rate of 58 per cent, while levels of residual waste produced per person fell by over 15 per cent when comparing the January-March 2017 quarter to the same period in 2016. The 66 per cent recycling rate is only four per cent short of the best-performing Welsh council, Ceredigion, on 70 per cent.
Council officers are putting the island’s dramatic rise down to the introduction of a three-weekly residual waste service, using larger 240-litre black bins, as well as additional recycling services.
The three-weekly service was initially rolled out in partnership with the council’s waste management contractor Biffa in October 2016, following the provision of new recycling containers to 34,500 properties in the area to help residents recycle more and better deal with the reduced residual collection.
All properties receiving the weekly recycling service are provided with a stackable trolley box system for recycling, which holds three coloured recycling boxes: a 40-litre box for mixed paper and magazines, plus textiles in a plastic bag; a 55-litre blue box for mixed plastic bottles, tubs, pots, trays, mixed cans and clean foil; and a 55-litre box for glass containers and cardboard. A separate pouch is available for waste household batteries, while excess segregated dry recycling can be left in clear plastic bags alongside the recycling boxes.
Food waste is also collected weekly, from 23-litre brown food waste caddies, and garden waste is collected fortnightly out of 240-litre green garden waste bins. A nappy collection service was also introduced at the same time as the three-weekly collection rollout, with around 1,200 properties currently registered for the service.
Commenting on Anglesey’s recycling gains, the council’s Chief Waste Management Officer Meirion Edwards said: “Extending residual waste collection frequency to every three weeks has improved efficiencies. As well as helped focus residents’ minds on minimising household waste. At the same time, we gave residents the means to easily recycle a wider range of materials by introducing mixed plastics collection, and made storing recyclables easier with the introduction of the trolley box. Taken together, they’ve worked very well to achieve our objectives.”
Three-weekly residual waste collections are becoming an increasingly widespread as local authority waste officers seek new ways of increasing recycling while reducing council service costs, under pressure from budgetary constraints forced upon them by austerity.
Reduced residual waste collections, judging from initial evidence, has a positive effect on recycling rates almost immediately. Bury, the first English council to introduce three-weekly collections in 2015, recorded a rise in its recycling rate from 47 to 55 per cent in just two months.
Meanwhile, fellow Welsh authority Conwy County Borough Council introduced a three-weekly residual waste collection service in September 2016 as well as a trial four-weekly service, which has seen recycling among three-weekly households increase by six per cent, and an increase of 17 per cent in those households participating in the four-weekly collection trial.
Conwy Council’s Waste Manager, John Eastwood, recently told Resource that the response from residents had been “overwhelmingly positive” and they have “adapted to the change very quickly”, something he puts down to constant communication between the council and its residents: “Residents have adapted marvellously but I don’t think you could do this without focusing on communications.
“It’s a project that’s been communicated to residents for the best part of two years now. I think a positive thing for us was some of the negative pieces of press really, in terms of trying to sensationalise this as a cut to services, as they all referred to our message that it would increase recycling (and raised awareness of the change).”