To Accept, Or Not Accept, Commercial Waste…

EMMA-CLARKETo accept or not to accept commercial waste at HWRCs? That is the question, considers Emma Clarke, senior consultant at Resource Futures, in the third part of our series on HWRCs.
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HWRC tonnages have been decreasing in recent years, and some of this is likely to be due to local authorities/contractors getting wise to trade abuse. But, if the infrastructure is in place, perhaps it’s a good thing to use an existing facility to provide a service to businesses and generate extra income.

Forty-five authorities in England reported to WasteDataFlow (WDF) that non-household waste was collected at their HWRCs in 2012/13. The percentage contribution of non-household waste varied from less than one percent to more than 50 percent and 60 percent at the London Boroughs of Bexley and Hounslow respectively. WDF does not record sites that accept commercial recycling only; although we know that such sites exist. There appears to be no relationship between the acceptance of commercial waste and overall recycling rates or total site throughput.

We know from our own consultancy work that there is still a lot of trade abuse taking place at HWRCs. So the issue is not so much trade acceptance, as proper management of trade waste.  Simply enacting measures to exclude it is a step forward, but it’s not enough if waste ends up being fly-tipped. Where trade controls have been effective, affordable alternatives are required for small traders. Ironically HWRCs, including those that have excluded unauthorised trade, are well set up (by virtue of being a waste and recycling centre) to accept commercial waste.

Remember the Review of Waste Policy in 2011? The Government was encouraging local authorities in England to consider allowing small businesses to dispose of waste at HWRCs, with the aim of making it easier and more cost effective to recycle. Since then, WRAP has published the HWRC Guide (which includes a chapter on trade waste), the Commercial and Industrial Waste and Recycling Bring Centre Guide and an apportionment tool for commercial and industrial collections, to help authorities to co-collect commercial and household waste and importantly, record and report it correctly.

If the site is big enough, the site licence will allow it and there are not existing traffic queuing problems, then it is generally a good idea to accept commercial waste at HWRCs. This can be fully integrated or, if the site is large enough, via separate areas for traders. Both methods have pros and cons, and a third way is a hybrid approach. The charging scheme should be affordable to the trader and incentivise recycling. Traders can be charged by weight or by material type. As well as charges, local authorities need to consider:

  • who/where the customer base is
  • the convenience and proximity of the preferred site to customers
  • impact on householders
  • compliance of commercial waste customers
  • payment mechanism
  • local competition and kerbside collections by councils and contractors
  • whether additional containers are needed
  • cost and requirement for additional uplifts
  • monitoring requirements
  • signage and marketing

And remember to consult Planning and Highways departments about any proposals…

To discuss HWRCs email Emma here.

In next week’s final article in this series, we consider how many recyclables can and should be segregated onsite and what exactly are “niche materials”?

To read the first in the series of HWRC articles, from Eric Bridgwater, click here
To read Emma’s previous article on WRC re-use, click here


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