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Resource Futures slams media coverage on AWC report

Environmental consultancy Resource Futures has slammed national newspaper claims that a report it carried out for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs showed that alternate weekly collections do not cut waste.

The report entitled Understanding waste growth at a local authority level was published by Resource Futures in October 2009 (see MRW story).

The Resource Futures report found that across a number of the 28 case study authorities there were net reductions associated with the roll-out of AWC for refuse, especially if their introduction was not also tied to the introduction of free garden waste collections. The study integrated waste arisings data from both household waste recycling centres and district council level in order to assess the impact of different policy interventions on total household waste arisings.

The Daily Telegraph
reported (January 25) that the research project had concluded that fortnightly collections had a knock-on-effect of householders taking more to the tip. The Daily Express also reported that fortnightly collections just force home owners to drive their rubbish to the local dump.

Resource Futures chief executive Jane Stephenson told MRW: Comments in the press about AWC causing more waste to be taken to household waste recycling centres have not looked at the RF report in any detail. The case study evidence does not suggest that the introduction of AWC for refuse simply results in more waste taken by the public to HWRCs. There is some evidence of a rebound effect, where households initially take more black sack material to HWRCs following the introduction of AWC for refuse. However, the data also suggest that this may be short-lived and the HWRC residual starts to fall back again. A lot also depends on what other measures have been introduced at HWRCs to address issues such as trade waste abuse, which can also influence HWRC arisings.

The RF report was very careful to point out that quite a number of influences were likely to be at play when attempting to assess the impact of a single local waste policy measure. For instance, the reductions associated with AWC for refuse are often associated with campaigning work on waste prevention and home composting and the enhancement of recycling collections.

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