Local authorities across the country have noticed a dip in household waste streams as people spend less in the recession.
Speaking to MRW local authority officers have estimated that household waste streams have dropped from between four per cent to 10 per cent comparing last years figures to this years figures.
At an Association of London Cleansing Officers meeting last week London councils still reported a drop in household waste arisings. The ALCO is a forum for local authority senior officers in London to exchange information and to improve the understanding of waste management in London (see MRW story).
London Borough of Bexley Council head of waste and street services Stephen Didsbury said: It appears that waste streams are stalling moderately and there has been a reduction in the waste produced. This is probably the result of people being less well off and changing their shopping and waste habits.
Didsbury said that at the meeting officers reported reductions in household waste arisings between two to four per cent. But boroughs such as Islington experienced a five to 10 per cent drop. He added that other factors such as communication campaigns on a local and regional level may have helped reduce waste and supermarkets changing their packaging for products from glass to cartons: It is hard to say one or the other.
Somerset Waste Partnership communications team leader David Mansell said that the region had noticed a five to 10 per cent significant drop in household arisings, compared to this time last year. He said: Across the board we have seen a drop in waste arisings, recycling and our household waste centres. Interestingly, the drop seems to have started last summer before the recession took hold. But we suspect that the economic downturn played a significant factor in the noticeable reduction.
The fact that arisings have gone down is a good thing because one of our biggest costs are for waste disposal. Tonnage going down is a good thing because it provides a saving for local authorities.
Chichester District Council has also noticed a drop in residual household waste arising - it has noticed a 4.1 per cent dip. It has also experienced a significant 13.1 per cent reduction in recycling bank waste and a nine to 10 per cent of this reduction was due to Tesco closing one of its main recycling centres.
Environmental strategy manager Peter Blewden said: People are holding back on treats, they are not buying take-aways as much or wine, spirits and beer. The doom and gloom in the media from August has also affected people as they are watching what they spend, buying less and consuming less.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council recycling officer Gearóid Henry said that municipal waste arisings had been falling since 2006. Waste arisings from 2005-2006 were 180,000 and went down to 171,000 tonnes in 2007-2008. Henry predicts that businesses could have been looking for alternative cheaper solutions. But he added: Recession is good in terms of waste management and good for the environment. It will be interesting to see if reductions in waste have been due to waste prevention measures, the recession, or a combination of the two.
He said that it would be easier to measure the success of waste prevention campaigns in a healthier economy if waste arisings remain low.