NW councils deliver £20m per year waste savings

The Welsh Government is investing £11.5m to extend a scheme supporting councils in increasing recycling rates.

Councils in the North West have delivered combined savings worth around £20m per year through their waste management services, according to a new review.

The study by Local Partnerships, the body jointly owned by the Treasury and the Local Government Association, looked at 22 of the region's 43 local authorities.

Savings and avoided costs had been achieved through various means, including route optimisation, reducing the capacity of residual waste, contract savings, changes to collection frequency, bringing services back in-house, staff reductions, and introducing new services such as food and garden waste collections.

Council also generated savings through joint procurement and through the promotion and support of reuse schemes. Cumbria County Council, for example, diverted more than 40 tonnes of material from waste streams by supporting Freegle, an online service that allows people to give away or request items that would otherwise be thrown away.

The review found that recycling rates that recycling rates had stagnated for many over the last three years, a trend seen across the rest of the UK. However, councils that had made service changes experienced a significant improvement.

In October 2014, Bury Council moved to three-weekly collections for residual and dry recyclate, with food and garden waste collected every fortnight.

The change aimed to achieve 60 per cent recycling by 2016 and secure savings of £800,000 through reduced disposal costs.

The review found that in just 11 months, the tonnage collected in residual waste bins fell by 16.75 per cent, while tonnage from each of the comingled, paper and card, and food and garden bins rose by over nine per cent.  

The recycling rate reportedly averaged 54.18 per cent, hitting a peak of 59.69 per cent in July. This is up from 47 per cent in 2013-14.