‘Mixed picture’ of WRAP consistency work

Work undertaken by the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) into the business case for greater consistency has shown a ‘mixed picture’ in regards to the strengths of implementing the framework.

A summary of local authority business cases was recently published by the company as part of the organisation’s work on consistency in household recycling collections.

WRAP supported seven groups of local authorities, covering 49 individual authorities, to evaluate the local business case for adopting the consistency framework.

According to WRAP, the review presents a ‘mixed picture’ across the projects with respect to the overall strength of the business case to make major changes to services in line with the framework.

The three systems defined within the framework include a weekly collection of food waste, as well as the collection of a common set of dry recyclables. These include commingled and food, two-stream and food, and multi-stream and food.

According to WRAP, the review aimed to determine through modelling whether the framework systems are capable of delivering cost and performance benefits locally that are consistent with those identified at a national level.

The review found that a commingled system for collecting recycling had a higher cost to local authorities in comparison to multi and single-stream, and that for 64 per cent of local authorities involved in the projects, commingled had the highest cost, in comparison to the other models.

The baseline (current) arrangements were seen to represent the least cost option in just over half of the results because the majority do not include a separate food waste collection service, WRAP said.

In regards to recycling, WRAP found that overall there was little difference between the three systems in terms of the average recycling rates achieved.

However, where the three framework systems were modelled, collection of the common set of dry recyclable materials and separate weekly food waste was seen to add on approximately four percentage points to the modelled recycling performance. For the pilots this resulted in an increase in the average recycling performance from 42 per cent to 46 per cent.

According to WRAP, the project results demonstrate that a number of partnership areas have the potential to deliver services in line with the framework and maintain or improve recycling rates at no additional cost.

However, for others, WRAP found that introducing a separate food waste collection service where one is not already operating can represent an additional cost.

Linda Crichton, head of resources at WRAP, said: “The key challenge is in adding a separate food waste collection cost effectively. Less than 15 per cent of the ‘pilot’ authorities already had a food waste service, but for 80 per cent of those, savings could be achieved through moving to one of the optimised framework systems.

“However, for the 80 per cent or so of the ‘pilot’ authorities currently with no weekly food waste collection and operating a fortnightly residual collection, here the opportunities for further savings or ability to add food waste at no additional cost were limited.”

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