Source-separated kerbside collection offers the most cost-effective way to hit high recycling rates, according to a WRAP Cymru report commissioned by the Welsh Government.
The research notes that, although source-separated collections require the greatest initial outlay for councils lacking infrastructure, the payback time is less than two years.
Such collections also offer the greatest annual savings, with sorting costs much lower and material income greater than for other collection methods. The findings echo WRAP’s recent Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling Collections in England.
The Welsh report, Harmonised Recycling Collections Costs Project: Phase One compares alternative collection types: source-separated kerbside, commingled and two-stream.
All the options assumed requirements within the Welsh Government’s Collections Blueprint for weekly food waste collections and the amount of residual waste collected.
By switching from a commingled to a source-separated collection system, Wrap Cymru found that the annual savings achievable by councils were between £900,000 and £1.2m depending on the type of authority. Savings between £1m and £1.3m were possible when switching from twin-stream collection to source-separated.
Most local authorities in Wales have a source-separated system and have achieved a recycling rate of more than 60%.
Carl Nichols, head of WRAP Cymru, said: “While it must be noted that it may not be feasible for every authority to make the same savings, our report shows that the potential overall annual savings of adopting the source-separated collection method are significant, and that the initial outlay of switching over can be recouped within two years.”
WRAP Cymru is grant funded by the Welsh Government to encourage behaviour change across Wales, to reduce the amount of waste produced and use resources in an efficient way.