Bury accepts three-weekly contamination issues

Bury has seen a ‘manageable’ increase in recycling contamination since reducing the frequency of refuse collections, the council’s head of waste management has revealed.
Speaking on collection cycles at the RWM Show this week, Glen Stewart said there had been improvements in recycling and waste reduction since the new three-weekly system was rolled out in the Greater Manchester borough in October 2014.
Glen Stewart, Bury’s head of waste management, spoke at the Collection Cycles event at the RWM Show
Glen Stewart, Bury’s head of waste management, spoke at the Collection Cycles event at the RWM Show
Under the new service – the first of its kind on England – grey residual waste bins were switched from a fortnightly to a three-weekly rotation, while blue and green dry recycling bins are collected every three weeks rather than four.
According to Mr Stewart, the council is expected to save £860,000 on disposal costs a year on from introducing the system, with grey bin waste down by almost 4,000 tonnes.
Recycling
Recycling tonnages meanwhile have surged, with an increase in recycling bins and 5,000 new biowaste containers delivered to households in the borough.
In 2014/15, the council’s overall recycling and composting rate is expected to rise from 43% to just under 60% – placing it within the top 20 collection authorities for household recycling in England.
However, representatives from other councils in the audience were keen to understand what impact the changes had made to contamination rates in the borough, and the associated costs of dealing with the issue.
Mr Stewart conceded there had been a ‘manageable’ increase in contamination which the council has addressed via communication campaigns.
‘Rejected’
He said: “We have had four partial loads rejected since last year. We put it down to our communications campaign – in the first six months we would return to each missed collection despite contamination to explain exactly what they did wrong.”
Bury district council was the first local authority in England to introduce three-weekly collections
Bury district council was the first local authority in England to introduce three-weekly collections
Mr Stewart added that the campaign had led to increased staff costs at the front end of council operations, which was offset by lower disposal costs ‘at the back end’.
Also sitting on the event panel, Andrew Bird, chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, took the opportunity to speak about the government’s role in ensuring councils receive enough funding.
He said: “What we have seen in local government is communications have been an easy hit. That has resulted in levels of contamination going up, which is expensive. Defra is taking its rightful lead on waste issues. While a lot of what Rory Stewart is saying is very persuasive and very welcome the proof will be in what happens in the months and years to come.”