Recycling collections for flats - 'bring' recycling schemes

‘Bring’ schemes for flats are based on residents bringing their own recycling or food waste to communal collection containers located near their block of flats. Often also referred to as near entry schemes.

About ‘bring’ schemes

There are a wide range of types of containers that are used, including:

  • small and large wheeled bins;
  • underground containers; and
  • frames with drawers that pull out.

See further information on the types of containers available.

Different terminology may be used to describe the location of the containers:

  • 'near entry’ containers are usually located near to the entrance or next to refuse containers;
  • ‘centralised’ containers may be located in a central position between several blocks of flats; or
  • ‘on-street’ containers are located on a street next to the block of flats, and may therefore be accessible by non-flat residents (i.e. passers by).

Download a site inspection form used by Bournemouth Borough Council to introduce new recycling bring containers. You could amend it for your requirements.

Download a protocol developed for Tower Hamlets to assist site assessments for recycling bring banks.

Collection scheme methodology

Generally there are three steps for ‘bring’ recycling and food waste collection schemes:

Step one: Residents bring materials to collection containers. To make recycling easier some local authorities provide residents with bags, boxes or kitchen caddies in which to contain their materials for transportation.

  • Feedback from residents in Bristol showed that one of the barriers to recycling was the lack of a suitable container in which to store and transport their recycling materials. In response reusable bags were provided to residents.
  • In a trial launched by North Fulham New Deal for Communities and Hammersmith and Fulham Council, residents have been provided with small single use bags to transport recycling to recycling containers. These bags are designed to fit through the aperture of the recycling containers although some residents have said they would like the bags to be bigger so they can contain more material.

Reusable bag provided to residents in Bristol
Small single use bag provided in Hammersmith and FulhamSmall single use bag provided in Hammersmith and Fulham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step two: Materials are assessed and loaded into the collection vehicle by collection crews.  On arrival at the site collection crews will usually visually assess the recycling and food waste containers for problems such as contamination, littering, damage to containers and overflows. Any issues should be reported and quickly addressed. 

Reports should be collated and monitored over time and used to improve the recycling scheme. Read more about this in the monitoring section of this guidance.

Several methods may be used to load materials into the collection vehicle and these methods may even vary within the same council for different sites:

  • The collection vehicle may park next to the containers and empty them.
  • The collection crew may move collection containers to the vehicle for emptying.
  • Full containers may be exchanged for empty ones.  In Glasgow, operatives take two empty 240 litre recycling bins through the tenements to the rear courtyard and exchange them the full bins which are then taken to the vehicle for emptying. The bins are then emptied and taken to the next tenement. For more details read the full report.

Equipment that may be needed

  • containers for residents to store and transport materials; and
  • suitable recycling containers.

Depending on the location of the containers, equipment to support the containers may be useful such as:

  • sound deadening/noise reduction kits;
  • hard standing/paving;
  • lockable posts/frames (to prevent containers from being moved); 
  • fencing/wall/trellis/shrubbery to screen containers;
  • signage;
  • communication materials for residents such as leaflets/letters informing residents how and why to use the scheme and the location of the collection containers; and
  • information packs for the crew, caretakers and call centre staff.

Find out more details about equipment used for flats collection schemes.

Typical performance of bring schemes

Performance of bring schemes varies between sites and often depends on the relative ease with which residents can recycle.  For example if containers are located next to refuse bins which residents bring material to (rather than use a chute) they are likely to capture more material. 

From a recent exercise comparing kilograms of recycling collected per household per week (kg/hh/wk) from a variety of recycling collections from flats, it is evident that the average performance of a near entry bring scheme varied depending on:

  1. Frequency of collection – residents on weekly co-mingled collections recycled an average (median) of 2.54kg/hh/wk compared to fortnightly collections of 1.15kg/hh/wk.
  2. Low rise vs High rise – Low rise blocks were found to recycle more than high rise. This could be explained by the barrier of additional distance and effort and / or perceptions of additional effort required by residents to take their recycling down to recycling bins.
  3. If chutes were present for refuse disposal. Overall, residents without chutes for residual waste recycled an average of 2.00 kg/hh/wk while residents with access to residual waste chutes recycled 1.24 kg/hh/wk.
  4. Internal container provision - Average collections were higher where an internal receptacle was provided to residents to store their recyclables. In these examples, residents were provided with either a reusable sack or a recycling box. Overall, sites where residents were provided with internal receptacles collected an average of 2.26 kg/hh/wk, while those without internal receptacles collected an average of 1.18 kg/hh/wk.

What’s good about bring schemes?

  • relatively low capital and revenue costs;
  • can capture larger amounts of material and achieve higher participation rates in some instances;
  • can usually be introduced quickly and easily;
  • can be easy to communicate how to use them to residents; and
  • residents are able to recycle as often as they wish i.e. there is no requirement to store recyclables for a week at a time.

What problems could there be?

  • generally lowest capture of any recycling scheme;
  • generally requires most effort from residents and may be difficult for some residents to participate e.g. elderly residents or wheelchair users;
  • performance varies greatly between sites;
  • the sites likely to capture the most material may be more likely to be opposed (e.g. because they may be very visible or close to the building);
  • can attract fly tipping and use by commercial users; and
  • contamination may be difficult to identify. Read more about how to deal with contamination.

How could different building types affect collections?

  • Finding appropriate space for recycling containers can be difficult for flats in converted houses where external space can be limited.
  • In sheltered accommodation blocks residents may have physical difficulties that make it difficult for them to carry materials to recycling containers at the ground level.  Investigate whether a warden or care assistant is able to transport recycling for residents.
  • In older blocks of flats, such as mansion blocks, vehicle access can be difficult as they were designed before large vehicles were commonly used.  Suitable space for recycling containers may also be limited as bin stores may have been designed to contain only a single refuse bin.
  • Some purpose built blocks were designed to reduce interaction between pedestrians and vehicles making it difficult to find locations for containers that are convenient for residents and accessible by a vehicle.
  • In blocks with a high proportion of holiday lets turnover of ‘residents’ can be high so the location of the recycling containers and accepted materials may need to be carefully communicated.

Top Tips

The City of Edinburgh replaced 1280 litre eurobins for residual waste with 3200 litre side loading bins. They found that:

  1. The side loading bins had half the footprint area as the eurobins which minimised the loss of parking space.
  2. The difference in appearance of side loading refuse bins and eurobins used for recycling was thought to reinforce the message of their different functions.
  3. The increased size and weight of the side loading bins means they should be located at the collection point to reduce manual handing.

Manchester City Council found the biggest expense of their new bring scheme was the 1100 litre eurobins and frames that were used at some sites. They decided to use reconditioned eurobins rather than new as this reduced the cost by approximately £100 per container and meant they could provide recycling facilities to more buildings.

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