40% of black bin waste could be recycled – how can we cut this figure?

UK households aren’t doing enough to manage their waste responsibly. A recent investigation by Devon County Council found that up to 40% of rubbish thrown out in black bin bags could actually be recycled. But whose responsibility is it to cut this figure – local communities, or Local Authorities?

Rather than relying on residents to improve their attitudes independently, regional waste management teams can do more to support neighbourhood recycling schemes. To achieve this successfully, however, they need the technology systems in place to manage all aspects of municipal waste effectively – making it easy to recycle relevant household rubbish.

All talk, no action?

When it comes to domestic recycling, there is a huge gap between people’s attitudes and day-to-day behaviour. 90% of people want all packaging to be recyclable, according to Cardiff University research, yet as Devon Council’s investigation shows, people aren’t always disposing of items they can currently recycle responsibly.

Part of this apathy stems from confusion surrounding recyclable products, as guidelines vary between Local Authorities. As we touched on in a recent blog post on 6 ways to make recycling more successful, collection guidelines need to be clearer in order to encourage uptake.

Further education is also important to ensure that households don’t become too gung-ho and cause the opposite problem, with black bag waste ending up in the recycling bin. For example, North London Waste Authority recently launched a #BinYourNappy campaign, encouraging parents to put dirty nappies into general waste rather than forcing refuse workers to remove them from recycling collections by hand, before the remaining items can be processed.

Finding the right technology to innovate services

Better marketing and clearer collection policies are just the tip of the iceberg for municipal waste management services, however. Many Local Authorities currently lack the systems and processes to support an efficient recycling policy – which explains why only 1 in 5 councils currently have a complete recycling service in place.

For recycling systems to function effectively, collection services need to be underpinned by an effective waste management solution.

Once consistent guidelines are in place regarding what items can be recycled, with the right technology, council waste management teams can create clear workflows that can be easily sent to collection crews across the local area. This will improve the way initial instructions are issued, and how/where recyclable items are sent and processed.

In addition to streamlining the way in which these collections are run, with the appropriate software in place, crews can report back on the realities of their rounds, to highlight recurring issues with incorrect waste disposal. This data can be collated and analysed, to inform local waste management strategies and supporting marketing campaigns.

Better recycling is a collaborative effort

To return to the original question of whose responsibility it is to cut black bag waste, the short answer is Local Authorities AND local residents. With a clear, efficient system for collecting and managing recyclable items, waste management teams can offer a quicker, slicker service that makes households want to participate – without increasing their operational costs.

And with a supporting educational campaign that promotes just how many items could be disposed of more responsibly, and the impact of throwing items into the wrong collection, residents will feel more compelled to put eligible items in the recycling bin rather than a bin bag.

Whitespace Municipal helps Local Authorities across the UK to innovate their services through our waste management software. Book a free demo to see how it works. 


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