Household Waste Collection Commitment: Report & Guidance

23rd November 2016

This guidance was produced as part of the Household Waste Collection Commitment to support signatories in delivering better recycling services for residents.

Key points
Based on the findings of comprehensive market research from autumn of 2008
Themes were developed with local authority involvement into a number of principles that define a good collection service

Overview

Overview

The Waste Collection Commitment aims to clearly set out, through a number of general principles, the standard of service that every household in England should expect from their waste collection services and provide councils with advice on how to improve their services. It is hoped that this clearer understanding will help to deliver improved customer satisfaction and increase participation in recycling schemes.

Download the guide >>

Principles

Related

Related

To find more information on the Household Waste Recycling Commitment, please use the following links:

Household Waste Recycling Commitment >>
Commitment signatories >>
Commitment case studies >>
WRAP’s Consistency Project >>
The Courtauld Commitment 2025 >>

We will… explain clearly what services you can expect to receive

WRAP’s market research suggests that satisfaction with local authority communications concerning waste and recycling is lower than many other aspects of collection services.

  • Only 65% of respondents were satisfied with council communications about changes to the day of their collection(s);
  • Only 58% of respondents were satisfied with council communications about any alterations to their collection service (e.g. in what could be recycled); and
  • Only 54% of respondents were satisfied with council communications about the reasoning behind the rules of their collection service.

Additional focus group work revealed concerns among some residents that they receive differential treatment according to the area – or even street – they live in. It is important that councils convey to all residents the specifics of the service that they can expect to receive.

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Resources

Toolkits and good practice

 

Improving Recycling through Effective Communications >>
Good practice on developing collection calendars >>
Low participation areas: Effective communications planning >>
Guide to door-to-door canvassing >>

 

‘Connecting with communities’ communications toolkit >>

 

Training

 

Communications planning and design >>
Communications planning >>

 

Case studies

 

Newcastle-under-Lyme: Communicating a two phase service change >>
Coventry City Council: Introducing a new recycling service to all residents >>
Oldham Council: Engaging a culturally diverse community when implementing service changes >>
Braintree District Council: door-to-door canvassing >>

 

Websites

 

Recycle Now Partners >>


We will… provide regular collections

A ‘regular’ collection can be broadly interpreted as one that is ‘recurring at fixed times’. In this case, on the same day of the week. Ultimately, this commitment and Principle 3 are about giving residents certainty about their collections.

Regularity emerged strongly from the market research that fed into the Waste Collection Commitment:

  • When asked what aspects of their collections they liked, 17% of respondents mentioned the regularity of the service (making this the most popular answer to this question). 4% also said they liked the fact that their service was ‘consistent’, supporting the suggestion that what residents really value is certainty; and
  • When asked about the most important things that mark out a good rubbish and recycling collection service, 22% mentioned regular collections.

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Resources

Toolkits and good practice

Collection and recycling services good practice >>
Recycling collections for flats >>

Training

Recycling managers training course >>
Reviewing and re-tendering your service >>
Improving efficiency >>



We will… provide a reliable collection service

A ‘reliable’ collection is one that always occurs at a consistent time and in a consistent manner. Ultimately, this commitment and Principle 2 are about giving residents certainty about their collections.

  • Regularity and reliability emerged strongly from WRAP’s market research:
  • When asked what aspects of their collections they liked, 17% of respondents mentioned the regularity of the service (making this the most popular answer to this question) – while 8% of respondents said they liked the reliability of their collections. 4% also said they liked the fact that their service was ‘consistent’, supporting the suggestion that what residents really value is certainty;
  • When asked about the most important things that mark out a good rubbish and recycling collection service, this time reliability was the most popular answer – given by 28% of respondents - while 22% mentioned regular collections.

When respondents were asked to rate the reliability of their rubbish and recycling collection, 79% said they were satisfied.

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Resources

Toolkits and good practice

 

Collection and recycling services good practice >>
Recycling collections for flats >>

 

Training

 

Recycling managers training course >>
Reviewing and re-tendering your service >>
Improving efficiency >>

 

Case studies

 

Tower Hamlets Council: Improvements in flats recycling >>


We will… consider any special requests that individual households may have

There was insufficient space on the market research questionnaire to explore satisfaction with local authority arrangements for, say, residents with physical disabilities. However, the focus group work revealed a strong sense that collection services need to be sensitive to the particular circumstances of individual residents and households. This view was perhaps most frequently expressed in concerns about the level of flexibility offered by councils to larger (or smaller) households. Other respondents complained about lack of storage space for containers, or about restrictions on where and when they could leave containers out as a result of living in conservation areas or listed buildings.

Frustration at services that do not respond to the particular needs and circumstances of particular householders may have been reflected in lower levels of satisfaction with the size of rubbish and recycling containers amongst larger households. 86% of single person households agreed that the rubbish and recycling containers their council provided them with were an appropriate size, compared with only 58% of households of five or more people. Similarly, 82% of single person households agreed that the number of rubbish and recycling containers supplied to them by their council was reasonable, compared with only 63% of households of five or more people. This link between household size and satisfaction was replicated when it came to recycling and rubbish collections more generally.

It is important that local authorities give consideration to the different types of households they serve and strive to ensure that their collection services accommodate the specific circumstances of residents wherever possible.

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Resources

Toolkits and guidance

Alternate weekly collections >>

Case studies

Lancashire - Assisted bin collection project >>


We will… design our services and carry out collections in a way that doesn’t produce litter

When asked about the most important components of a ‘good’ rubbish and recycling collection service, 23% of respondents mentioned the cleanliness of streets after collections have taken place. Only reliability of service was mentioned more often. In addition, 15% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way their local authority had dealt with litter in the streets following collections.

Whilst not technically littering, the survey also suggested that some residents are annoyed by crews leaving containers in the wrong place after collections have taken place. 6% of respondents said containers being returned to the correct position was an essential component of a good collection service, while 3% listed containers being left in the wrong place as one of their top dislikes. The same percentage mentioned the placement of containers as one of the key areas in which their service could be improved.

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Resources

Toolkits and guidance

Local Environments >>
Street Litter >>
Local environmental quality >>
Fly-tipping >>

We will… collect as many materials for recycling as we can and explain to you what happens to them

The public desire to maximise the range of materials collected for recycling is clear - 15% of survey respondents said their service would be improved if more materials were collected for recycling and 16% listed the limited range of materials collected as one of their dislikes about their service. At the other end of the spectrum, 11% listed the range of materials collected among the things they liked most about their collection service. Requests for a wider range of materials to be collected were often directed at particular materials, the most common being plastics and glass.

Stories in the media about materials put out for recycling being shipped to the far east, sent to landfill, or incinerated have fed scepticism about what happens to materials that are collected for recycling. Such sentiments emerged regularly in the focus groups and are closely linked to the pledge to explain how materials are used after collection. That part of the principle is also partly linked to concerns about crews’ treatment of recycled materials, particularly when residents have been asked to separate these before leaving them out for collection. Almost a third of respondents (31%) agreed with the statement, ‘It’s pointless separating out different types of recycling because the council puts them all in one lorry anyway’.

Jump to this section >>

Resources

Toolkits and guidance

Plastic bottle kerbside collection guide >>
Food waste collection guidance >>
Collecting foil and aerosols >>
Choosing and improving your glass collection service >>

Websites 

Recycle Now >>

We will… explain clearly what our service rules are and the reasons for them

As described under Principle 1, satisfaction with council communications about waste and recycling collections is lower than for many other aspects of the service. Nonetheless, four out of five survey respondents (81%) agreed that the rules of their rubbish and recycling collection are “clear and simple”. Only around one in ten (11%) disagreed.

While this question related more to perceptions of the rules than the manner in which they are conveyed, there is clearly a link between effective communication of rules and a public belief that those rules are ‘clear and simple’. This was supported by the focus groups that followed the survey, although there was more uncertainty about rules when it came to some of the specifics, such as whether bottle tops should be screwed on, or whether packaging should be rinsed out.

Irrespective of current understanding and perceptions of collection service rules, the essence of this principle – that those rules, together with the reasoning behind them, should be clearly set out for residents – remains vitally important. With respect to explaining the reasoning behind rules, there was clear evidence from the survey that some local authorities have some way to go on this issue. Only 54% were satisfied with their council’s explanations about why rules are the way they are.

The public attitudes survey also asked how fair respondents felt a range of rules were. Rules relating to where containers should be left for collection were generally thought to be fair (82% of respondents), as were those relating to the time of day waste (81%) and recycling (81%) should be left out. Four fifths (80%) of respondents also believed rules about the condition recyclables should be left in were fair. Other rules, however – namely those relating to side waste and the presentation of waste and recycling containers (e.g. whether lids are closed or not) – received lower levels of support. It may be that explaining the reasoning behind service rules could also increase public support for some of these less popular aspects of collections.

Jump to this section >>

Resources

Toolkits and guidance

Improving recycling through effective communications >>

Case studies

Exeter City Council: Lessons learned in enforcement and education >>

We will… respond to complaints we receive about our services

Along with communications about collections, some of the lowest levels of public satisfaction with collection services were recorded in relation to the way councils respond to problems2 . Only 66% of respondents were satisfied with their council’s response to litter on the streets after collections, while 65% of respondents were satisfied with their council’s response to collection crews throwing recycling in with general waste. Satisfaction levels were still lower when it came to councils’ response to containers being left in the wrong place by collection crew (61% satisfied) and fell to 50% when it came to councils’ response to fly tipping. It is important that residents know how to bring problems to the attention of their local authority, and that councils have procedures in place to respond to problems and communicate with residents about that response.

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Resources

Toolkits and guides

Good complaint handling: Identifying and processing complaints >>

Websites

Listening and learning: comments, compliments and complaints >> 

We will… tell all our residents about this commitment to collecting waste

The original starting point in drafting the Waste Collection Commitment was to help households better understand the sort of standards they should expect of their collection services. In order for it to be effective, local authorities need not only to sign up to it, but to communicate their involvement – and the Commitment itself – to their residents.

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