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Poll finds Britons positive over waste collection

An overwhelming majority of people are satisfied with their waste collection - and those with alternate weekly arrangements are less likely to want to switch to weekly, according to a new survey.

The first public opinion survey on attitudes to waste for three years throws up some interesting results around weekly collections, for which communities secretary Eric Pickles has battled hard.

The results suggest that perceptions are worse than reality. While two-thirds (67%) agree that the Government should mandate weekly collections of residual waste, that figure shrinks to 53% amongst those already on fortnightly. Of those on weekly collections, 78% want to stay that way, suggesting they are keen to protect them, but become happier with the idea once they move to AWC.

Overall, 78% are very or fairly satisfied with their waste collection including 74% of households with a fortnightly (and 83% with weekly), again suggesting that moving to fortnightly makes a minor difference to satisfaction levels. Problems identified show little correlation with the frequency of service other than, perhaps predictably, smells and flies.

Where people have food waste collections, they are overwhelmingly happy (69%).

Paul Vanston from Kent Waste Partnership said: “‘The survey results tend to support the view that food waste collections, particularly weekly, could be a key focal point of DCLG’s £250m Challenge Fund to help councils improve services and satisfy the needs of residents.”

A further encouraging point emerges from the recycling scorecard where only two areas receive below 5/10: feedback to residents and information on where to buy recycled goods; possibly suggesting people are keen to know more about the what happens to their waste and how they can do more to close the loop.

Responses to the idea of “pay-as-you-throw” indicate polarised opinion with 40% in favour, 37% against and 22% undecided. Policies that financially reward people for recycling are supported by 63% against 17% opposed.

John Twitchen from Sauce Consultancy said the data showed greater support for rewards amongst younger people, a difficult demographic for recycling.

He said there are possibilities for “more targeted [reward] programmes around young people or commuters, away from the domestic situation”, including opportunities for public places and recycling schemes at events.

Large majorities support the building of new waste treatment facilities with 87% for AD, 80% for MBT and 75% for EfW incinerators. Only EfW shows significant opposition with 15%.

Incentives for communities where new facilities are built was backed by 72% with a strong preference for council tax and energy bill discounts.

Twitchen said that has implications for infrastructure planning in light of recent difficulties with EfW plants, raising questions about national versus local opinion and how far developers can go to appease local communities.

The report was welcomed by Joy Blizzard, chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee. She said it “certainly sheds light, rather than heat, on the current situation”.

Key findings from the report:

  • Satisfaction with waste collection: 77%. 74% of households with fortnightly collections, and 83% with weekly are satisfied.
  • Overall average score for recycling services: 7.4/10. Reliability: 7.9. Simplicity: 7.1. Leaving the street tidy after collection: 7.1.
  • Lowest scoring aspects of service: feedback to residents: 4.4, and information on where to buy recycled products: 3.9.
  • Satisfaction score for weekly food collections: 7.9. Fortnightly: 6.9.
  • 67% agree government should mandate weekly collections - support highest amongst those currently on a weekly service.
  • 63% support rewards for recycling. 17% oppose.
  • Large majorities support building new waste treatment facilities: 87% for AD, 80% for MBT and 75% for EfW incinerators. Only EfW shows significant opposition: 15%.
  • 46% of households now have fortnightly collections of rubbish; 59% have fortnightly collections of recycling. 50% have food waste collection.
  • The most common system is fortnightly rubbish, fortnightly recycling plus food waste collection, serving 19%.
  • 78% are satisfied with their waste collection. 74% of households with a fortnightly collection are satisfied compared with 83% with weekly.
  • The biggest problems, identified by 14% of households, are rubbish dumping and fly tipping.
  • Other problems reported were bin capacity (13%), flies (11%), smells (10%), councils not taking rubbish away (8%), and vermin (6%).
  • Householders overall give their recycling service an average of 7.4/10. They give reliability 7.9, simplicity 7.1, and leaving the street tidy after collection 7.1.
  • The two lowest scoring aspects are feedback to residents (4.4) and information of where to buy recycled products (3.9).
  • Food waste collections score 7.5/10, with 7.8 for reliability, 7.3 for leaving the street clean and 7.2 for collection.
  • On the downside of food collections the in-home caddy scores 6.6, cleanliness of the bin after collection, 7.2, and availability of biodegradable bags, 4.4/10.
  • Weekly food collections score a higher satisfaction rate (7.9) than fortnightly (6.9).
  • 67% agree that government should mandate councils to collect rubbish weekly. Support is highest amongst those who currently have a weekly service.
  • 39% agree that fortnightly collections benefit the environment, 34% disagree.
  • 40% would agree with the principle of pay-as-you-throw whilst 37% disagree.
  • 63% support rewards for recycling with 17% opposing the policy.
  • Large majorities support the building of new waste treatment facilities with 87% for AD, 80% for MBT and 75% for EfW incinerators. Only EfW shows significant opposition with 15%.
  • 72% support “recognition” for communities where new facilities are built with a strong preference for council tax and energy bill discounts.
  • 40% say there are no improvements they’d like to see to their collection.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Interesting that lowest score was for 'where to buy recycled goods'. Would public actually be as contented as you suggest if they actually knew how their recycled resources were used and how little was 'closed loop' in current systems?

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