New research shows switching to source separated collections could save Welsh councils over a million pounds a year

7th December 2016

A new report from WRAP Cymru shows that source separated kerbside collections offers the most cost effective approach to achieving high recycling rates.

Commissioned by the Welsh Government, the report, ‘Harmonised Recycling Collections Costs Project: Phase One’ compares the cost of alternative approaches to the collection of recycling. Comparing source separated kerbside collections to co-mingled and two stream collections.

The research assumed that weekly food waste collections and restrictions on the amount of residual waste collected are needed, as outlined in the Collections Blueprint, for authorities to meet the ambitious Welsh recycling targets. However, by switching from a comingled to a source separated collection system, the research found that the annual savings achievable by authorities were in the region of between £900,000 and £1,200,000, depending on the rurality of the authority.  And savings between £1,000,000 and £1,300,000 are potentially achievable when switching from a twin stream collection to a source separated collection.

Although source separated collections require the greatest initial outlay for councils with no existing infrastructure, the payback time for all authority types is under two years. It also offers the greatest annual savings, where post collection sorting costs were much lower and material income greater than for other collection methods.

This work echoes that carried out by WRAP UK on Greater Consistency in Household Recycling in England*.

Wales has already seen the majority of councils move to a source separated collection system, and last year achieved a recycling rate over 60%.

Carl Nichols, Head of WRAP Cymru, said:  “Whilst it must be noted that it may not be feasible for every Authority to make the same savings**, our report shows that the potential overall annual savings of adopting the source separated collection method are significant, and that the initial outlay of switching over can be recouped within two years.”

WRAP Cymru is grant funded by the Welsh Government to encourage behaviour change across Wales, to reduce the amount of waste produced and use resources in an efficient way, in order to meet the Welsh Government’s ambitious target of being a zero waste nation by 2050.

The Welsh Government’s preferred method for the collection of waste is detailed in the ‘Collections Blueprint’. An independent review of Collections Blueprint, conducted in March 2016 found it continues to offer clear benefits in terms of cost and material quality as well as its impact on recycling performance.

You can read the full Phase One report at


*A Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling Collections in England
**Potential savings would depend on the size of the Authority, the current service provision, the Authority’s inherent productivity, and the individual relative material income and processing cost

Notes to editors:
1. First established in 2000, WRAP is a not for profit organisation and registered charity whose vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. WRAP works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.

2. Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:
a. re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,
b. re-thinking how we use and consume products, and
c. re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.


Clare Usher

PR Officer
01295 819678