13 September 2016 by Will Date

WRAP outlines three collection consistency options

Resources charity WRAP has today (13 September) published its long-awaited waste collection consistency framework for English councils.

Launched by WRAP’s head of resource management Linda Crichton and chief executive Marcus Gover at RWM this morning the document sets out a series of three preferred options for councils to adopt to bring about ‘more harmonisation’ among collection systems in English councils.

Householders should be limited to the equivalent of no more than one balck sack's worth of residual waste per week, WRAP has claimed in its consistency framework

Householders should be limited to the equivalent of no more than one balck sack’s worth of residual waste per week, WRAP has claimed in its consistency framework

The consistency framework hinges on three recommended collection options which include either a multi-stream recycling collection, with paper, glass and card and plastics, metals and cartons collected in three separate containers, a two-stream option, which includes collection of plastics, metals, cartons and glass in one container and a separate container for paper and card. The final option is a fully commingled service including plastics, metals, cartons, glass and card.

The core set of recyclable materials recommended for collection includes plastic bottles and pots, tubs and trays, metal cans, aerosol containers and foil, glass bottles and jars, paper, card, drinks cartons and food waste.


All three of the options should be coupled with a separate food waste collection, WRAP claims, along with a maximum equivalent of no more than 120 litres of residual waste, or one black sack, per week.

However, the framework argues against the collection of mixed garden and food waste, with WRAP claiming that evidence shows that separate weekly collections of food waste capture significantly greater volumes than mixed collections.

The guidance offers no standard advice on the collection of garden waste, instead stating: “Collection of garden waste either at kerbside or at household waste recycling centres for composting is widespread. Separate garden waste collection services are provided at the discretion of local authorities, for which a charge can be made. Householders are also encouraged to compost their garden waste at home.”


Also identified as a key issue is the colour of containers – which the framework has marked as a ‘next step’ in public engagement. “Adoption of a national colour scheme for containers is considered a  long-term aspiration as some container types are designed to last for several years so replacement timescales vary,” the framework notes.

In order to move towards greater consistency, the Framework also sets out a five-point plan for actions to be taken up by working groups, which will begin to report on activities by spring 2017.


These will include action on improving recyclability in packaging, improve consistency in recycling communications and to consult on the costs and benefits of introducing a national container colour scheme. Support will also be offered to six groups of local authorities to evaluate the business case for adopting the framework.

The framework had been due to be published in the summer, having been set in motion by the former Defra minister Rory Stewart who kick-started work to tackle what he had lambasted as the ‘madness’ of the variety of collection systems adopted by councils across the country.

Defra's former resources minister Rory Stewart had identified collection consistency as a key area of focus (photo: Amy Burns)

Defra’s former resources minister Rory Stewart had identified collection consistency as a key area of focus (photo: Amy Burns)

Work to draw up the guidance was led by WRAP, alongside an industry steering group which included the Environmental Services Association, Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, Local Government Association, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Resource Association, the Recycling Association, the British Retail Consortium, Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government.


Despite having been supported by government, councils are not obliged to follow the recommendations set out in the 11-page document.

Commenting on the framework, WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover, who chaired the advisory group, said: “As an industry we have achieved so much in the last 15 years. A thriving recycling industry has been created and recycling is now a way of life. When Defra asked us to investigate the opportunities for greater consistency, we were delighted to lead this, and to work with representatives from each stage of the recycling supply chain.

“By pooling the wealth of recycling experience from across the sectors, we have developed a vision that offers the opportunity to increase recycling, improve the quality of recycled materials, save money and offer a good service to householders. It is only by joining together that we can now realise the benefits of the vision and I look forward to working with all those involved to do that.”

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