In 2002/3, the amount of household waste collected for recycling at CA and bring sites in England increased by 12% from 2.2 million tonnes in 2001/2 to 2.5m tonnes.
However, an increase in kerbside collections has meant that CA sites proportion of household recycling was 66% down from 69% in 2001/2. (Kerbside recycling means it accounted for 34% of the total household recycling.)
But one of the most detailed studies of CA sites was published earlier this year and goes a long way in showing that these sites are still vital.
The National Assessment of Civic Amenity Sites gives a comprehensive guide on how recycling rates can be improved through updating existing facilities.
The project was managed jointly by Network Recycling and Future West, funded by Biffaward, with contributions from the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers and carried out in partnership with the Waste and Resources Action Programme.
It found that CA sites have an important role for the future of recycling and waste diversion in the UK. The report says it has become increasingly apparent that these facilities can, and in some cases already do, offer a large boost in recycling rates for relatively low amounts of financial output. It says that prioritisation of CA site improvements is therefore essential.
The report aims to show the importance of CA sites in the context of overall household waste is likely to persist well into the future. It states that ever-more-demanding statutory recycling rates will dictate that local authorities massively expand kerbside recycling schemes in their areas, and it may be the case that recycling tonnages from kerbside schemes will rival or even exceed CA site recycling tonnages.
Nevertheless, CA sites will probably always be in a position to achieve higher recycling rates than the best performing kerbside recycling schemes. Therefore most local authorities with their eye on the ball have already identified CA sites as being capable of making a very significant contribution to the achievement of their statutory targets.
The report states that in England household waste recycling, excluding that from CA sites, amounted to an estimated 1,084,000 tonnes in 2001/2. This is approximately half of the estimated figure for CA site recycling of 2,089,000. Therefore CA sites were by far the largest source of recycling from household sources during 2001/2, emphasising their vital importance in municipal solid waste management.
This, says the report, indicates that the achievement of high recycling rates is much easier at CA sites in comparison with other household recycling systems, such as kerbside recycling.
In fact, the research showed that Englands CA sites recycled an estimated 2,089,000 tonnes in 2001/2, in comparison with 3,173,00 tonnes recycled from all household waste collected (including CA sites).
CA site waste is clearly a very significant proportion of household waste, accounting for nearly a quarter of total household waste arisings for the UK.
However, CA recycling rates vary hugely, from sites recycling nothing at all to small sites recycling 88% of throughput. The range of performance of individual sites in the UK is very large. Best performers include Wareham CA site in Dorset (5,731 tonnes throughput), which achieved a recycling rate of 68% in 2002/3 and Tovil Green CA site in Kent, which has a considerable throughput (16,230 tonnes) and achieved a recycling rate of 61%.
Some local authorities in England are achieving high recycling rates across all their sites, resulting in high authority-wide CA site recycling rates. The highest reported CA recycling rate for an authority is North Lincolnshire Council, which achieved 61.5% for all of their CA sites collectively. A total of 30 England local authorities reported an overa