Over 180 local authorities have now changed their collection systems so that the collection of material for recycling and/or composting alternates on a weekly basis with residual waste for landfill or incineration. These systems, which are diverse in their detailed design, have become known collectively as Alternate Weekly Collections (AWC). AWC is not appropriate for all authorities and whether to adopt it must be a decision for local councils in the light of their local circumstances and the views of their electors.

On environmental grounds, WRAP considers that food waste should be collected separately and weekly and to process it either in compost or, preferably through processes such as anaerobic digestion which also allow recovery of energy.

WRAP has published a report intended to help authorities decide whether AWC is right for them and to draw together, from the experience of other authorities, advice on how to design and implement a scheme which is effective, and which gains and retains the support of local people.

The report gives guidelines to describe a diverse range of scheme designs and implementation, but the basic concept is that the reduced collection frequency for residual waste is an incentive for householders to separate recyclable material into the recycling collection. The lower cost of the residual waste service frees resources to fund investment in recycling services.

There are some very clear messages which emerge from councils‘‘ experiences so far and these are highlighted in this guidance. It is clear that well designed and executed AWC schemes should contain certain key features:

§ There should be consultation with both elected members and residents when considering service changes. Once changes have been decided on, there should be continuing communication of the service changes across the different phases of planning and implementation including regular feedback to all.

§ AWC must be accompanied by a high quality recycling service. Schemes should be designed for ease of use by residents and services should be reliable. Residents should be provided with sufficient container capacity for their recyclables – they must be able to recycle at least half of their waste materials to compensate for the reduction in residual waste capacity. Particular consideration should be given to bulky items like plastic bottles. Schemes should have some flexibility to deal with special circumstances.

§ New schemes will initially be confusing for some residents and additional resources must be made available to provide residents, who require it, with additional support to help them adapt to the new services. Designing systems that are similar to successful schemes in neighbouring authorities will help to reduce confusion. Although there are powers of enforcement available to local authorities, successful schemes should rely first on public understanding and acceptance of the arrangements and reserve formal enforcement to the last resort.

§ The design of the scheme should address known public concerns. So, storage of refuse should be in secure, rigid containers to respond to concerns about the increased risk of odour, flies and other nuisances as a result of storing waste for up to two weeks. Householders will need simple practical advice on wrapping and bagging waste to reduce these risks.

§ Much of the public debate about AWC has focused on public concerns about storing food waste. WRAP has commissioned separate research and published guidance on the treatment of food and other biowastes within the domestic waste stream. It is clear that in order to meet the Landfill Directive requirements it will be necessary to deal with food waste in the residual waste stream. WRAP‘‘s research indicates that on environmental grounds the best way to achieve this is to collect food waste separately and weekly and to process it<

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #31-2007-August 03, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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