Love it or loathe it? The wasteful impact of Valentine’s Day

Couples across the country have been giving and receiving tokens of their affection this month to mark Valentine’s Day; a £700 million spending opportunity for the retail industry, according to Savvy research. In fact, 40% of the UK celebrates this occasion, sharing cards, flowers and gifts as a declaration of their love.

But while shops are celebrating increased sales, Valentine’s Day does not leave such a loving feeling among those dealing with the mess it creates. Local authorities face a surge in rubbish post-February 14th which, if managed badly, can push already strained waste management systems to breaking point.

If this scenario sounds familiar, here are some things to consider when dealing with the extra refuse generated by Valentine’s Day generosity – to ensure sentiments stay sweet among your local residents, and you still meet your collection targets.

The wasteful cost of cupid’s arrow

With almost half the country celebrating Valentine’s Day in some shape or form, this event has a significant impact on waste levels.

Greeting Card Association data has shown that Brits buy over 18 million cards each February, while the UK cut flower industry is worth over £2 billion. Most of the gifts sent on Valentine’s Day have a short life span – meaning that, within a couple of weeks, a deluge of flowers, cards and chocolate boxes will end up in the bin.

Even couples buying life-long keepsakes will purchase products that arrive in excess carboard or plastic packaging. This still needs to be disposed of, adding to already overflowing waste collections.

Coping with the increased collection demands

One of the reasons that waste management teams dread calendar events like Valentine’s Day is that their systems are already stretched to the limit, and an upsurge in rubbish levels can put them under unsustainable strain.

Many local authorities are still using manual tools like spreadsheets to co-ordinate refuse pickups, with little or no dynamic contact between collection crews and the central office team. This makes it difficult to share feedback about the volume of waste being put out week-on-week, and it can take time to communicate whether routes have been completed or targets have been missed.

Without any real-time transparency or feedback, it’s easy for collections to get out of kilter, and leave waste management teams playing catch up after a particularly busy week. Events like Valentine’s Day serve as a timely reminder that the cost of investing in newer software to automate refuse management workflows and streamline the collection process is small fry, compared to the drain of inefficient waste disposal services.

Helping residents to get recycling right

Another struggle that Valentine’s Day highlights is the level of confusion among households regarding recycling collections. With many local authorities alternating between recyclable and general waste rounds, residents can be left unsure as to what they can recycle, and when it will be picked up.

Ahead of peak waste-generating events, it can be useful to remind the community when their next recycling collection is coming up, and exactly what items can and cannot be included. For example, many people won’t realise that not all types of plastic can be recycled – but contrastingly, they might not think to put dead flowers in their garden waste collection bin.

Creating specific waste management campaigns doesn’t have to be expensive, if you have a social media presence or online residents’ hub. Work with your marketing team to create some simple graphics that can be shared digitally – ensuring a zero-waste approach to promotions.

Outlining clear guidelines on recyclables will also help to educate refuse collection crews, so they feel confident when sorting through items put out during recycling rounds. This, combined with waste collection workflow software, will help to speed up the time it takes to manage each route, ensuring a swift service for your local neighbourhood.

Fall in love with waste management software

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show you care, and business practices should be no different. Rather than letting your systems reach breaking point under the strain of managing more waste than usual, it’s a chance to state the case for waste management software.

Hundreds of local authorities across the UK have already fallen head over heels for the benefits of better co-ordinated refuse collections, and Whitespace wants to share the love with even more teams. Our market-leading municipal waste management platform significantly reduces administrative effort and paperwork, while greatly improving customer service.

Our software also provides sophisticated analytics tools, enabling effortless reporting on your waste targets to keep your whole team feeling happy with the results being generated.

Book a free Whitespace Waste Management demonstration to see how our software can help you improve collection services.


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