Council posts 73% recycling rate to top the UK green league

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 07 Jul 2010 11:47
Recycling rates soar with new programme

The first full year of a new recycling and rubbish collection service for residents in South Oxfordshire has achieved a ‘simply stunning’ recycling and composting rate averaging around 70%, thought to be the best in England.

The service is estimated to have saved around £350,000 of taxpayers’ money annually and generated up to £850,000 in recycling credits.

From June 2009 to early June 2010, South Oxfordshire District Council’s municipal services contractor Verdant collected a total of 18,531 tonnes of dry recycling, 6,115 tonnes of food waste, and 7,434 tonnes of garden waste which, when combined with the district’s recycling banks, brought the area’s overall recycling and composting to 32,621 tonnes.

Total waste going to landfill was 11,739 tonnes for the year, producing a recycling and composting rate of 73% - and even after allowing an average 5% rejection for possible contamination at the materials recycling facility handling South Oxfordshire’s materials, this rate still averages 68%.

In the year 2008/09, the council recycled a total of 21,753 tonnes of dry recycling, glass from recycling banks, and garden waste, and produced 27,964 tonnes of waste, achieving a recycling and composting rate of almost 44%.

The new service has increased dry recycling collected from the kerbside by around 24%, and total recycling and composting tonnage by 48%. Waste going to landfill has fallen by nearly 60%.

A carefully-planned communications programme, informing local residents of collection changes and persuading them to support the new scheme, won a prestigious Green Award for best direct mail campaign.

Councillor David Dodds, Cabinet Member responsible for rubbish and recycling, said: “What has been achieved by residents is simply stunning. They fully deserve a massive vote of thanks from the council. When the new service was introduced last year, some residents were understandably sceptical, but our focus on explaining the new service helped persuade them to get involved.

“In just one year, they have all helped our recycling and composting rate rocket to 70% or more. That is brilliant news for them and for the council, and is also a meaningful contribution to helping address climate change and carbon impact.”

Verdant managing director Roger Edwards also paid tribute to residents for ‘supporting the new scheme so selflessly’. Explaining that no-one likes change, he said: “The ‘blank canvas’ approach of the councils meant we could propose some pretty radical changes, changes that we knew would make a real impact on local recycling.

“These results bear out our belief, and I’d like to also thank the hard-working Verdant team who provide such a smooth service in South Oxfordshire. They have helped the residents to become real recycling stars.”

The relaunched scheme was implemented in early June 2009 by Verdant which had worked closely with the council for some months to redesign this important service for the area’s 56,000 urban, village and rural properties. Verdant had earlier been appointed by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils to develop and deliver the new service, the company’s first ‘twin council’ win.

South Oxfordshire’s new scheme featured alternate week collection of single stream commingled dry recyclables and residual waste from wheeled bins, weekly collection of food waste (a first for the county), and an already-established subscription-based garden waste collection service. The range of collectable recyclables was extended to include glass, food and drinks cartons, aerosols and foil for the first time, and commingling was chosen as a proven easy way for residents to recycle more materials.

Verdant delivered over 200,000 wheeled bins and kitchen caddies in the run-up to the launch, and also took on the customer help line service which had previously been run by the council. The company made a significant investment in customer relationship management software that linked seamlessly with data captured by microchips in the wheeled bins.

This data is transmitted by Verdant’s collection vehicles to a central database to produce real time, accurate information that helps answer resident queries and service complaints. Calls to the help centre have halved since rollout, and missed bins are now running at a very low 25 per 100,000 collections per week.

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Comments about Council posts 73% recycling rate to top the UK green league

Great news. I hope other Councils see this as a challenge, a target to beat! Envitae - solutions for Commercial Property energy compliance
Roger Lawrie, Birmingham around 3 years, 5 months ago

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