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Worst performing councils changing to commingled collections

An increasing number of local authorities with the lowest dry recycling kerbside collection rates are switching to fully or partially commingled collections, according to a report by consultants WYG.

WYG publish a yearly report based on local authority information submitted to the WasteDataFlow database. This year’s results are based on data covering 2011/12.

As revealed in previous years, authorities with the best kerbside recycling rates are more likely to offer fully commingled collections. Twenty out of the top 30 authorities were shown to have such a system in place.

Only five authorities on of the list of bottom 30 worst performers provided commingled collections, either including or excluding glass, and the majority made separated collections.

But WYG said a number of bottom 30 authorities had changed their collection policy since the data was submitted.

Earlier this year Ashford Borough Council, one of the worst recycling authorities, signed a contract with Biffa to provide alternate week collections of residual waste and commingled dry recyclables in wheeled bins.

Brent Council moved to full commingling during 2012/13.

Rother, Wealden, Eastbourne and Hastings have also jointly agreed to move to a two-stream commingled system, with glass collected separately and all other materials commingled.

Commingling has come under fire in the past from the Campaign for Real Recycling and the Resource Association, which represents reprocessors. They have argued separated collections are of higher quality and that commingling leads to higher rejection rates from materials recycling facilities (MRFs).

But WYG project director Len Attrill said that if councils had access to a modern MRF, commingled or two-stream collections were usually less expensive than separated collections. However, if a high quality MRF was not locally available, kerbside sorting is “often cheaper”.

He added that it was up to local authorities to choose which system suited them best.

The report was sponsored by Biffa, Kier, Serco and Plastics Europe.

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