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Better bin management

Local authorities face increasing pressure to divert more waste each year from landfill, which has meant exploring new recycling schemes and trialling new wheel bin types to meet tough EU landfill diversion targets. At the same time, they are being forced to squeeze budgets and cut services.

Never before has it been so important to adopt waste management strategies that are cost effective, can boost recycling rates and deliver improved environmental benefits. As a result of the increase in new recycling schemes however, a lesser known problem has arisen – how to deal with ‘end of life’ wheel bins, which has escalated as new bin types emerge.

This situation has occurred due to the increasing segregation at source of the household waste stream requiring new bin types; an increase in the size of bins for recyclable waste; while general green waste bins too are also getting smaller. We believe that this situation will be exacerbated in the future as literally millions of bins will soon be ready for recycling, having been in use from as far back as the 1980’s.

The adoption also of new dry co-mingled waste schemes has already resulted in improved recycling rates. A recent report ‘Review of Kerbside Recycling Collection Schemes Operated by Local Authorities’stated that ‘this combination of services were used by most of the top 30 councils in the kerbside dry recycling league table for 2009-10, as compiled by consultancy WYG from government published data. It also reported that of the 13 councils who improved their recycling diversion by more than 1kg per household per week 11 of them had moved to a wheeled bin service for dry recycling’.

These latest results are encouraging. Local authorities need to ensure that they not only keep up with landfill targets but that they also consider other legislation too such as ‘The Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations 1998’ (PUWER) regulations. This requires employers to undertake risk assessments of their workplace equipment. Existing wheel bins will need to be evaluated and old bins taken out of use to prevent potential risk to the user. Since bins typically have a warranty period of five to seven years, it may mean they are more frequently replaced to prevent hazards occurring.

Luxus has been working with local authorities since 1986, offering a revenue generating or no charge recycling ‘closed loop’ service known as the ‘Bin2Bin’ scheme. This is where products at the end of their natural life are used as a resource to remanufacture the same product.

So we effectively source materials and through our plastics processing we enhance them using engineered additives to create technical alloys, or composites which when combined deliver low carbon products. The resulting compound that’s made from 100% recycled materials is then ready for wheel bin manufacture. This process enables local authorities’ in their efforts to reduce their wheel bin footprint and prevent further landfill.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is one of Luxus’ clients. To meet increasingly tough recycling targets both efficiently and cost effectively, it started to trial recycling schemes to find out how they might perform in their local area in 2003. They initially used 55 litre boxes for a weekly collection service covering 5,000 properties including both urban areas such as Bridlington and rural villages. They found however, that the containers filled up too quickly and that the weekly collections required were too labour intensive.

“The trial had demonstrated that contamination wasn’t an issue and that to really improve recycling rates we needed to adopt a fully, co-mingled dry recycling waste collection service. By using the latest research we began to establish our future strategy,” says East Riding of Yorkshire Council project manager Andy Height. “A more pressing problem however, was how to effectively communicate to the general public future trials and how to gauge their opinion on their success.”

With this in mind the council introduced 140 litre blue bins for paper recycling. It then later added plastic bottles and food and drink cans before finally, evaluating take-up to find that recycling rates were increasing. Having then assessed different facilities the council decided to broaden its collections to include: glass, additional plastics and tetra packs. But this required higher capacity wheelie bins.

“We quickly realised that 240 litre blue wheel bins for the co-mingled recyclables would be needed, as they could easily hold five times more than the recycling box originally trialled, says Height. “This however created a problem, how to effectively exchange the smaller 140 litre blue bins for the larger, 240 litre bins since the scheme covered nearly all of East Riding’s 149,000 households. We also had the difficulty of how to responsibly and cost effectively manage our estate of existing smaller blue wheel bins which were no longer needed.”

So last year, the council put a tender out to plastics recycling specialists and as a result chose to partner with Luxus for its bin replacement project. It was agreed that the new higher capacity blue bins would be introduced to the council’s kerbside collection service in autumn 2011. It required the effective removal of a total of 91,000 old blue wheel bins, which were then exchanged for new bins through our ‘closed loop’ recycling scheme, until the programme was completed earlier this year.

This is how the Luxus ‘Bin2Bin’ service operates: we collect the ‘end-of-life’ bins which on arrival at our plastics processing plant, are washed, shredded, granulated and melted. The resulting granulate is then mixed with additives and colours ready for sale to bin manufacturers. The council then received a weight return ticket to claim land tax credits and payment in weight for the old plastic materials.

“As the council had only limited capacity for storing the old bins, it was critical that we provided a prompt and reliable collection service, backed by our state-of-the-art plastics processing facility to effectively close the recycling loop,” says Height.

The roll out was complicated as the 140 litre bins had to be emptied and then removed before the new higher volume wheel bins could be delivered. This process took a total of six months to implement.

“Luxus met our expectations enabling us to reach the top end of our estimate for bin exchanges,” adds Height. “Since the initial roll out we have received a further 2000 requests from the property owners that didn’t opt for the higher capacity bins originally.”

In the past 18 months East Riding of Yorkshire Council has also introduced waste caddies to its collection schemes, following once again an initial trial of 5,000 households. The aim was to introduce co-mingled food waste with cardboard and garden waste for the first time. As a result, the adoption of caddies has in the last nine months already reduced the weight in general green waste bins by 10,000 tonnes.

With landfill capacity expected to expire by 2025, progress being made now is critical. Luxus is providing a valuable solution to help in the race towards zero landfill.

Case study: Council

Since East Riding of Yorkshire has introduced various recycling initiatives from 2004, the average weekly residual waste produced from each property has halved, today it is now less than 8kg per property. This is considerable given that there has been an increase in properties too of around 10,000 in the East Riding. This reduction is down to a combination of factors including: offering more options at the kerbside, introducing co-mingled waste collections and the general public having embraced these new schemes.

Peter Atterby is managing director of Luxus

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