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Get the best from kerbside schemes

Kerbside Systems

This recycling scheme type delivers recycling to the householders doorstep. It is intended to increase the convenience of, and reduce the effort involved in recycling. The material is sorted by the householder and kept separate from the other waste. The material is then collected on predetermined days - just like the refuse collection service. Across the UK this type of scheme collects 7 times more plastic bottles than that of a comparable bring scheme. In 2012 391 local authorities have a multi material kerbside scheme that includes plastic bottles – 96% of local authorities in the UK.

Considerations for this type of scheme include:

  • method and frequency of collection;
  • number of households involved;
  • material types collected and, more specifically, what type of plastic bottles are wanted;
  • amount of material collected - do resources exist to cope with the expected volume;
  • household density in scheme area;
  • level of awareness;
  • promotion and support for the scheme;
  • how plastic bottles will be separated from other material;
  • what income can be generated from an end market for collected materials

Container options

Just as the bring scheme, the collection container is an important component of the kerbside scheme. When selecting a container, thought must be given to:

  • the weight and volume of target materials
  • how the container is handled
  • ease of use for both collection operatives and householders
  • robustness and reliability of the container
  • compatibility with servicing vehicles available
  • cost of container and material used in manufacture

Collection vehicles

There are a number of vehicles available for the collection of kerbside recyclables. The type of vehicle ultimately chosen is often determined by the method of material collection and type of container used.

Schemes using wheeled bins will require collection vehicles fitted with lifting apparatus to empty the bins.

Schemes that use kerbside boxes or bags can use a variety of different types of vehicles. The defining issue in such schemes is often the manner in which the collected material is sorted, as described below.

Sorting options

Separate and co-mingled collections involve the collected materials being deposited together in the vehicle, which is then tipped at a recycling facility for sorting. A method of pre-sorting is to provide more than one kerbside recycling container, to allow the householder to complete some further segregation of the recyclables prior to the initial collection. A variation on this is to use a compartmentalised vehicle where the materials can be manually sorted by an operative during the collection. The different compartments are then emptied into different bays at the recycling facility, and the material is already sorted. Although some quality control monitoring is still needed, less effort is then required at the sorting stage to prepare the material for baling.

Another option is to collect the recyclables and refuse at the same time, which is especially useful in rural locations, but is also utilised by a growing number of urban local authorities. The compartment specifications can be altered allowing for different proportions of refuse and recyclable material to be collected, so the compartments become full at the same rate. The refuse is then taken to landfill, and the recyclables can be unloaded at a recycling facility.

Plastic gains a clear benefit from using on vehicle compaction. It can considerably increase payloads and a greater volume of material can be collected before a vehicle reaches maximum capacity. But there are hidden problems that may arise with compaction. Glass cannot be collected as the compaction mechanism will break the glass into fragments, making material sorting more complex and increasing health and safety risk, and glass contamination. This problem can be overcome with the separate collection of glass either through kerbside or bring facilities. It is more likely that compaction vehicles are used to collect co mingled materials, except glass which is then collected separately from kerbside, or through bottle banks.

Co Reg: 2435729 | VAT Reg No: 546 5837 10 | Reg Charity No: 1072029

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