Recycling collections for flats - operation of different collection schemes

This section introduces the main types of collection schemes for flats.  Each of the subsequent sections on collection schemes includes:

  • An outline of how material is collected
  • A list of what is good about the scheme and what problems there could be
  • Top tips on implementing a scheme and links to further information

Introduction

The following sections of the guidance outline different collection schemes that are currently being used by local authorities to collect food waste and recycling from flats:

  • ‘bring’ schemes;
  • ‘chute’ recycling schemes;
  • door to door schemes;
  • collection points on each floor;
  • food waste collections from flats;
  • collections from flats in commercial buildings; and
  • bulky waste collections.

A summary table of the performance of different schemes has been produced mainly using data gathered during a bin weighing exercise, from the WRAP food waste trials and from research undertaken into food waste collections from flats in 2011 (due to be published Spring/Summer 2012.

Kerbside collections schemes (where residents set out containers at ground level for collection from the street) are not discussed although they are likely to be suitable for some small blocks of flats, such as converted houses.  When assessing the suitability of a block of flats for kerbside collections consider the number of households in the block and whether there is suitable space for the containers to be presented for collection. 

Avoiding 'one size fits all'

Because every block of flats differs in terms of building features, management structures and types of residents it is unlikely that a single recycling or food waste collection scheme will be suitable for all blocks of flats within a council’s boundaries. 

By assessing blocks of flats individually it is possible to introduce different types of collection schemes in different blocks. This has several benefits over blanket schemes including allowing:

  • introduction of a collection scheme that makes recycling as easy as refuse disposal for residents – the main factor that increases participation in schemes and capture of material;
  • the risks associated with collection schemes at each block to be understood and correctly managed; and
  • recycling and communication opportunities to be identified and harnessed.

Read more about assessing blocks of flats in the flats inventory section.

Introducing different collection schemes in different blocks of flats does require a greater level of management than a blanket scheme but can be simplified at the operational design stage, for example by:

  • maintaining a single data base of information on schemes provided that is shared with the collection contractor / operator;
  • designing schemes so that materials are loaded into the same type of container for collection by the vehicle e.g. materials collected via chutes and bring sites can be loaded into wheeled bins;
  • ensuring that communication materials carry clear messages and are correctly labelled, stored and distributed; and
  • providing only one or two different types of container to residents. For example reusable bags could be provided to residents to support ‘bring’ schemes, ‘chute’ schemes and collection points on each floor.