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Councils report decrease in household waste arisings due to recession

Local authorities report that household waste arisings are still decreasing a year after the recession.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has recently reported that the average residual household waste per head decreased from 324kg per head in 2007-08 to 295 kg per head in 2008-09.

Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee principal policy officer Andrew Craig told MRW:
Many councils have reported dips in their household waste levels. This owes mainly to the strong correlation there is between consumption (that falls during a recession) and waste.  The dips have been more noticeable for residual waste than for recyclate streams, because, generally, recycling rates have increased as well. However I am not aware that any particular materials have been more affected than others, except by changes in usage of materials, for example, plastics are generally increasing, steel packaging is not increasing so strongly and household food waste is declining owing to the success of the Waste & Resources Action Programme Love Food, Hate Waste programme".

waste household waste arisings have dropped by 2.54 per cent comparing the period April-July 2008 to April-July 2009. Paper from the kerbside has also decreased by 11 per cent and cardboard and paper has decreased by 21 per cent.

Somerset Waste Partnership managing director Steve Read said that the recession did have an affect on waste arising and recyclable material reduction. He said that newspaper volumes had decreased as advertisers cut back on advertising in newspapers.

Read also said that the SWP is hoping to do a waste composition analysis to assess peoples recycling behaviour patterns in the recession. He explained that if a council restricts residual waste capacity for householders (e.g. reduce frequency to fortnightly and/or provide smaller bins), it results in higher capture of recyclables.  This is because people know that if they do not recycle they will run out of space in the bin. Read added that if the overall amount of rubbish goes down due to the recession, there is less pressure on space in the bin, which might mean that less committed recyclers go back to slipping in things they could have recycled. Read said the SWP will hope to do some waste composition analysis to see if this sheds any light on the latter theory.

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