The adoption of all-year round four day week-collection services has been highlighted as a way to help ensure that there is reduced distruption to household collections over the Christmas period.
But, reflecting the diverse options within local authorities, other approaches have been signalled as also bringing positive results.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com, a variety of LARAC executive members have given their views on Christmas collections.
Amy Bridgford, LARAC South East rep and recycling and waste operations and projects manage at Aylesbury Vale, said: “The way forward is the four day week. Our crews collect on Tuesdays to Fridays so there is just one catch-up day after Christmas.”
Aylesbury Vale crews will collect one day late during the week with Friday collections made on Saturday.
Ms Bridgford also noted that “local authorities are more concerned that residents are putting the right thing in the right bin and recycling. We are trying to get as much publicity as possible. I have been on the local radio station and we are being featured by ITV Meridian next week.”
‘Business as usual’
Support for four day a week service has also come from John Coates, head of waste services for North Lincolnshire council, and representative for Yorkshire and the Humber. He said: “It is very much business as usual for what is always our busiest time of the year. We give people an extra residual collection at this time of year to help deal with the waste – instead of a green waste collection.
Mr Coates continued: “Christmas Day on a Sunday is better than having two Bank Holidays to catch up on and we will have an extra Saturday collection – where in other years we might have three extra Saturdays.
“Christmas and Easter are always the time of year when we see a spike in tonnages – bulky waste requests increase too.”
However, despite the arguments in favour of four day week services, Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council has recently returned to a five day a week service from four days.
“We have an agreement that collections can be worked on a Saturday or Bank Holiday”
Newcastle under Lyme borough council
The borough’s head of recycling and fleet, Trevor Nicholls, said that he felt four days services actually made little difference. “We have moved back to five days but have an agreement that collections can be worked on a Saturday or Bank Holiday. We would normally try and move services forward but this year we have decided to push back. Our Monday (Boxing Day) service is taking place tomorrow, 24 December.
“This means that we are only affecting 10,000 residents rather than all 60,000 households with the rest getting collections on their normal days.”
Dave Thomas, LARAC representative for the East Midlands and recycling coordinator at Rushcliffe borough council, said he felt for local authorities the challenge was twofold at Christmas. “One is internal planning for the collections you are going to do and this isn’t too difficult. Secondly, and what is harder is getting the message out that there is a change to the services.”
Mr Thomas explained that Rushcliffe issues its annual collection cycle calendar with Christmas collection details so that “the times should be fresh in the minds of residents. We also use Twitter and Facebook to give out information.”
But, he did not think it really helped that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday. “You still have the concession days and Bank Holidays – we won’t be collecting on the Tuesday.”
Rushcliffe, said Mr Thomas, will collect services as normal for Wednesday – Friday households with the Monday and Tuesday collections being made on Wednesday and Thursday. This is facilitated by using a “resource of 12-15 men who normally operate the green waste service which is suspended over the Christmas period so that they can backfill normal collections.”
Durk Reyner, head of environment at Welwyn Hatfield district council and vice chair of LARAC said his authority would be one of those pushing back services from Monday (26th) to Saturday (24th). “This means that we can then collect our Tuesday to Friday rounds on Wednesday to Saturday. This is helped by us not collecting garden waste over Christmas so we can divert crews to other collection work.”
Mr Reyner added that one problem area for the authority was flats. “Extra volumes can build up around bins at flats and this does cause us some collection issues.”
Oxford city council is promoting the collection of WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) over the Christmas period as well as normal recyclables.
Oxford’s recycling team leader, Maria Warner said: “We run a four day week service with crews working on Bank Holidays so it will be an absolutely normal service for residents. We have the agreement in the contract with our in-house service.”
Ms Warner added that she was looking forward “to lots of nice food waste, extra recycling and WEEE and batteries. There has been a lot of promotional work by us including roadshows. We have been issuing bags for batteries and WEEE as well as clear sacks for commingled recycling which we will collect as ‘side waste’.”
Battery producer compliance scheme BatteryBack is using the Christmas holiday to engage householders on battery recycling – as efforts to improve the UK’s battery collection rate continue.
Research commissioned by the scheme suggests UK households will consume around 280 million batteries this Christmas – with up to a third of waste batteries thrown straight into the bin.
As a result, BatteryBack is now working with its members to raise public awareness of the takeback facilities available to householders at retailers and local authority sites. The nearest 20 battery recycling sites to any postcode can be found at www.batteryback.org.
David Reynolds, technical director of the WasteCare Group, which runs BatteryBack, said: “Many households are recycling batteries despite limited communication. It is now time to ramp up our communication efforts to reach the 25% of households who are currently unaware of this option and help them understand that battery recycling is easy and convenient and has significant environmental benefits.”