Local authority recycling rates: WRAP identified the influencing factors

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Banbury, UK — Resource efficiency experts WRAP have published a new report which has identified key factors that influence local authority recycling performance rates, and which quantifies the degree to which these impact on those rates. The research, “Analysis of recycling performance and waste arisings in the UK 2012/13”, has been produced to give local authorities and waste management companies information on what elements impact on recycling performances in the UK, to help plan effective recycling schemes.

Linda Crichton, Head of Resource Management at WRAP, explains: “Recycling rates vary throughout the UK just as they do in other countries, and the reasons for this are complex. They can be within the control of an authority or contextual factors, such as demographics, that are beyond the authority’s control. Being able to quantify the degree to which each impact on recycling is hugely important for an authority, and this report will help make that possible.”

WRAP has analysed data for 239 authorities, covering three authority groups; waste collection authorities (WCA) in England, unitary authorities in England and unitary authorities (UA) in the UK. The analysis included local authorities that provide the same collection service for paper, card, cans, glass and plastic bottles to 80 percent or more of their households. In total, 60 percent of all England and UK authorities with responsibility for collection services were included in the study.

Recycling rates from 39 percent to 65 percent

The research showed that factors within the control of the authorities account for the largest proportion of variation in recycling rates across the three datasets, these ranged from 39 percent to 65 percent difference. They include factors such as:

  • Whether a local authority has a food waste collection or not – those collecting food waste generally have higher recycling rates than those with no food waste collections.
  • Effective weekly residual containment capacity available for waste was found to be significant in all datasets. More capacity is associated with lower recycling rates.

The study also found that across all three authority groups there is very little difference in recycling rates whatever the dry recycling schemes in operation, whether co-mingled, two-stream or multi-stream. Contextual factors were found to have a less influence on recycling performance, affecting the range of performance rates by between 16 percent and 29 percent, but are still important influences on recycling rates.

Source: Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)