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NRAs 2017: Local Authority Innovation

WINNER: Woking Borough Council

Woking Borough Council in Surrey serves a population of around 100,000 and its kerbside recycling rate is around 60%. But improving the capture rate and use of waste and recycling services at communal sites has been a challenge.

Flats make up around 25% of the borough’s housing stock and half of all future developments are anticipated to be multiple occupancy sites, making this ‘hard to reach’ group a high priority.

woking borough council

woking borough council

Woking’s recycling improvement project aimed to increase the capture rate and improve the quality of materials at such communal sites. Its innovation is in the approach to deliver a range of improvement techniques consecutively.

JUDGES’ COMMENT: “A range of measures was implemented to address a range of problems suffered by many councils; providing appropriate infrastructure and unique solutions.”


The receptacles provided have been specifically introduced to overcome a number of barriers linked to communal waste and recycling facilities:

  • The design of the reduced aperture recycling bins means that residents are now unable to place large sacks of recyclables into the bins, which was a main contamination factor. Instead, residents have been given reusable bags featuring WRAP artwork, which help to store their recyclables in the home before transportation to the communal recycling bins for loose tipping.
  • The provision of reduced aperture food bins and food waste housing units has greatly improved participation in this service. Better presentation of the new receptacles means that the negative stigma around the food service has been reduced.
  • Bespoke WEEE/battery and textiles bins have been developed.
  • Woking worked with New Vision Homes to modify a number of bin stores by creating more space for recycling bins, improving signage and lighting and putting up fencing to improve aesthetics.
  • A package of waste and recycling information was created in the top 12 languages spoken in Woking to address language barriers.

With these implementations, an estimated increase of 499 tonnes a year has been diverted for recycling based on 8,000 flat developments, exceeding Woking’s target by 8%. The communal WEEE/textiles bins have proved highly successful, with 95% and 80%, respectively, being presented.


  • Bolton Council
  • City Property Markets
  • Essex County Council
  • Northamptonshire Waste Partnership
  • Oxford City Council
  • Perth & Kinross Council and Children’s Hospice Association Scotland
  • Resource Efficiency Wales
  • South Norfolk Council
  • City of Wakefield Council

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