Simpler Recycling: Defra sets cap on residual waste collections


residual waste collections

The UK government has announced local authorities should provide at least a fortnightly collection for residual waste alongside a weekly food waste collection as part of Simpler Recycling.

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) criticised the decision and said the government “has not listened”.

80% of respondents to a government consultation disagreed with a fortnightly residual cap. 10% agreed, 5% did not give an answer, and a further 4% responded that they were unsure.

The government said it expects a minimum fortnightly service frequency for residual waste collections in England. 

However, it “actively encourages” councils to collect residual waste more frequently and said fortnightly is a minimum standard, not a recommendation.

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore commented: “We all want to do our bit to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill – but a patchwork of different bin collections across England means it can be hard to know what your council will accept. 

“Our plans for Simpler Recycling will end that confusion: ensuring that the same set of materials will be collected regardless of where you live.”

CIWM calls government’s stance “very disappointing”

Simpler Recycling

CIWM said the government’s stance on residual collection was “out of kilter” with strong evidence that supports the role of residual restrictions in reducing costs and increasing recycling and works against the government’s aims on waste prevention. 

CIWM strongly urged the government to reverse the decision and allow local authorities to have the option of collecting residual waste on a three-weekly basis.

The Institution said producers would also likely be frustrated and described the decision as a “needless imposition” on effective recycling services and a barrier to maximising the capture of packaging.

Lee Marshall, CIWM’s Director of Innovation and Technical Services, commented: “We hope that the relevant statutory instrument gets the Parliamentary time it needs so we can maintain momentum. 

“Ideally, though, we need the detail of the statutory guidance for local authorities to have the clarity they require to help them in planning and implementing the changes that are needed. 

“Clarification on what materials can be collected together is good and gives local authorities the freedom to choose the most appropriate and effective collection systems for their areas. 

“The stance on restricting options of residual frequency is, however, baffling given the overwhelming evidence that exists about how restricting residual reduces costs and increases recycling. 

“That is a point of contention and a missed opportunity to give local authorities a real behaviour change tool that is shown to increase recycling levels.”

Simpler Recycling changes

Simpler recycling

Simpler Recycling will now also allow for the co-collection of dry recyclable materials, which means there will always be a minimum of three bins. 

The three bins will be for dry recycling, organic waste, and residual (non-recyclable) waste.

A recent government consultation asked if respondents agreed with an exemption to allow for the co-collection of paper and card, plastic, metal and glass in one bin without needing a written assessment.

76% of consultation respondents agreed, 17% disagreed, 6% were unsure and 2% did not respond.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it will proceed with the proposed exemption to allow food and garden waste to be co-collected in one bin from households and non-household municipal premises.

62% of respondents agreed, while 18% disagreed, 14% were unsure, and 5% did not give an answer.

There were 202 respondents to the consultation from 170 local authorities, 18 representative trade bodies, and 14 others.

The plans will apply to all homes in England, including flats. Similar measures will apply to non-household municipal premises, including businesses, hospitals, schools and universities.

Places of worship, penal institutes, charity shops, hostels and public meeting places will all now come under the scope of the Simpler Recycling regulations.

The Consultation Impact Assessment for Simpler Recycling, informed by analysis from the Waste and Recycling Action Programme (WRAP), assumes a 4% contamination rate for separately collected dry recyclables, 9.5% for twin-stream collections, and 13.5% for co-mingled mixed dry recyclable collections.

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