Higher residual waste collection capacity is associated with lower recycling rates, according to a Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) study published today 

The report suggests that local authorities have direct control over a number of factors which can influence their recycling performance.And, local authorities that offer separate food waste or mixed food and garden waste collections were generally found to have a better recycling performance than those which do not offer such collections.

However, all local authorities analysed by WRAP showed “very little difference in recycling rates whatever the dry recycling schemes in operation, whether commingled, two-stream or multi-stream”.

The WRAP report – ‘Analysis of recycling performance and waste arisings in the UK 2012/13’– looks at the key factors that influence recycling performance rates, as well as quantifying the degree to which these factors actually impact on local authorities’ recycling rates.

It found an association between an increase in weekly residual waste containment capacity from 120 to 240 litres and decreases in recycling rates by 7.9 percentage points.

This is due to decreases in dry recycling yields and increases in residual waste yields, WRAP said, although “no significant relationship” was found between residual waste collection capacity and total waste arisings levels, suggesting that material is likely diverted to other streams such as HWRCs in areas of lower residual capacity.

The containment volume available to a household for residual waste depends on the size of the container provided and the collection frequency, and the WRAP study combines the frequency and container size into a single measure of effective weekly residual containment capacity.

Lower recycling rates were also found to have a connection with householders which use subscription garden waste collections, or no garden waste collections at all.

Furthermore, councils in England which collect PTT plastic at the kerbside were generally found to have higher recycling rates.