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Feature: Collective bargaining

The days when residents took recyclable goods to a central point are fast disappearing. Legislation due to be introduced by the Government in 2010 will require all local authorities in the UK to provide two waste disposal streams per household.

Doorstep collections are one of the most effective ways of encouraging people to recycle, so providing a separate waste collection scheme for such goods could help many local authorities meet tough European Union recycling targets.

However, making just one extra collection per household per week has major financial implications for councils, which need to invest in new refuse collection vehicles and extra staff, as well as additional bins or boxes. These costs, which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, are prohibitive for many local authorities and will totally change the way that waste is collected.

It is almost inevitable that the alternate week collection of residual and recyclable waste, already introduced by some local authorities, will eventually become the norm. In addition to saving money on vehicles and staff, such schemes also motivate people to segregate their waste more accurately, thus helping to increase recycling efficiency.

Encouraging residents to segregate their recyclables on the doorstep saves councils time and money.

A number of local authorities are already capitalising on this opportunity and are exceeding EU recycling requirements by providing more than two waste collections per household. This trend is likely to increase in the future, and I believe many local authorities will eventually offer up to four waste collection streams.

These may not be available to all residents, but will be tailored as appropriate. As the number of waste streams increases, the frequency of collections of each one is likely to decrease since it will be impossible to fund or manage them.

The biggest challenge will be winning public support for such collection methods. Local authorities have already proved that these collections can work well, provided people understand the importance of segregation. The difficulty lies in allaying people's fears and convincing them of the benefits.

The 2010 legislation will spell a decrease in demand for the public recycling banks that were traditionally provided for goods such as glass and paper. These banks are already fast disappearing and in the future nearly all recycling will be done on the doorstep.

As doorstep collections increase, wheeled bins will gradually replace boxes and sacks. Boxes have aroused health and safety concerns because they have to be lifted by hand. Although some councils have introduced smaller 47-litre boxes to try to combat the problem, they are simply not big enough.

As local authorities come under pressure to increase recycling, wheeled bins fitted with technology that monitors everything from the type of rubbish recycled or sent to landfill per household to the date and time a bin was emptied, will be widely used.

Radio frequency ID operates via a scanner, which can be handheld or fitted to a lorry's bin lift. The scanner registers each recycling or non-recyclable waste bin via a microchip fitted inside the bin mould. The microchip accesses a variety of information, including the address of the bin owner, when the bin was emptied and the number of times it was put out in a given period.

By identifying people who do not regularly recycle or who frequently contaminate their waste, local authorities can target educational campaigns at those who most need them. They can also ensure that residents are

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