Research and Analytics


CIPFA Waste Collection and Disposal Statistics

June 1997

Since Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, District Councils in England have been responsible for the collection of waste and County Councils responsible for its disposal. The London Boroughs and Metropolitan Authorities are responsible for both functions, as are the Welsh Districts.

Two specific survey series were installed after this reorganisation; a joint initiative between the Department of the Environment, the Welsh Office and CIPFA led to the annual publication of statistics on 'Waste Collection'; and the Society of County Treasurers co-operated with CIPFA on the 'Waste Disposal' data. These surveys collected a reasonably comprehensive record of waste management activities and costs until the latter part of the 1980's when the response rate of authorities dramatically declined and both series of statistics were discontinued. The decline in the response rate may, to a large extent, be attributed to the introduction of Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) for a wide range of local government services including waste collection and street cleansing. Authorities expressed concern about the sensitivity of information, given the accessibility to private contractors with whom they were now in competition. It became increasingly apparent that the surveys needed to be redrafted to switch the emphasis away from CCT towards the implications of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and EC regulations. The design and pu-rpose of the new surveys has emerged after extensive consultation with local authorities. They aim to provide relevant information to assist each authority to compare its activities and its relative progress in implementing the various legislative changes that have taken place over the past few years. The new surveys place more emphasis on the scope and level of service provision, in particular the levels of recovery and recycling of waste materials. This year, for the first time, the results of both the waste collection and disposal surveys have been combined into one publication.

A detailed note on methodology follows this commentary.

1995-96 Actuals

Returns have been received from 302 authorities, a response rate of 68%. Figures in the summary tables are based solely on returned data. The procedure followed in most SIS publications is to 'gross' returned data to take account of both missing values and non-responding authorities. It is anticipated that as the response rate improves it will be possible to adopt a 'grossing' procedure for this series of statistics, thus enabling more meaningful year on year comparisons to be undertaken.

The survey gathers information on the following:

General characteristics

Population, numbers and types of hereditaments. These statistics enable more meaningful comparisons to be made between authorities.

Operational management

Illustrates the method of service delivery i.e. whether the service is provided by private contractors, DSO or a joint arrangement between the two. It also provides details of the range of services that are undertaken.

Service provision

The scope and level of services provided i.e. the types of waste containment used, the frequency and method of collection etc.

Weight data

This section provides details of the amounts of waste collected and its treatment and disposal.

Materials recovery

The amount of waste recovered for reclamation. Information is also provided on home composting.

Costs of service provision

Detailed information of authorities' capital and revenue expenditure in 1995/96. It also identifies the net cost of specific processes e.g. special collection, incineration etc. together with information on recycling credits.

The following commentary, which highlights the main findings of the survey, is divided into three distinct sections:

Authorities responsible for both waste collection and disposal i.e. London boroughs and the Metropolitan and Welsh districts are included where appropriate in both Sections 1 and 2.

Waste Collection

Prior to the implementation of the Local Government Act 1988, refuse collection was mainly carried out by staff directly employed by the local authority. There were, however, already a significant number of authorities using private contractors to undertake waste collection services on their behalf. In 1982-83, for example, there were 28 local authorities using private contractors, at least in part to collect their waste. Figure 1 illustrates the position in 1995/96.

Operational Management
The most common methods of waste containment are:
  • Plastic wheeled bins;
  • Disposable plastic sacks; and
  • Conventional dustbins

The type of container used by a household has been proven to directly influence the quantity of waste arising. Authorities, for example, that have introduced wheeled bins generally report higher waste per capita compared to households where the waste is placed in disposable plastic sacks or conventional dustbins. Figure 2 analyses the types of waste containment used.

Waste Containment
Figure 3 illustrates the method of collection. Categories have been classified according to the number of households that receive that particular method of collection.

Method of Collection
Table 1 identifies the amount and sources of waste collected by waste collection authorities in 1995-96.

Weight of waste arising
For the purposes of these statistics it has been assumed that two-thirds of the waste collected from mixed hereditaments is household waste. Using this assumption it can be seen that household waste represents approximately 89% of the total arising.

However, data on waste is often limited to volumes, thus estimates of weight and the statistics have to be treated with caution e.g. only 129 authorities (69% of respondents to this section of the survey) indicated that all waste was weighed.

Where authorities weigh all their waste, per capita arisings tend to be much lower compared to authorities that estimate their overall tonnage. Within this survey, excluding the Corporation of London and the Isles of Scilly, figures range from 518kg per head in Neath, to 221kg per head in West Dorset. Most authorities (63%) report figures of between 300 and 400 kilograms per head. Overall the mean quantity of waste collected per capita per year is 345 kilograms, or 7 kilograms per week. Figure 4 illustrates:

Household waste per capita
Government legislation requires that half of all recyclable household waste should be recycled by the year 2000, which is approximately 25% of all household waste arising. Whilst there has been a marked increase in the amount and range of materials reclaimed by authorities, the survey results indicate that current recycling rates for waste collection authorities average just under 7% of total household waste.

Recycling of Materials (Household Waste only)
Waste Disposal

Section 51 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 placed a requirement on each waste disposal authority to arrange for the disposal of controlled waste collected in its area by the waste collection authorities and to provide places in its area where persons resident may deposit their bulky household waste. These sites are known as civic amenity sites and since the mid 1980s they have become more important as recycling centres. As with waste collection the private sector is heavily involved in these operations. Figure 5 illustrates the current position with respect to private and public sector service provision.

Operational Management
Table 3 identifies the amount and sources of waste arising in waste disposal authorities in 1995-96.

Waste Arising
Because of the restricted opportunities for certain types of disposal e.g. landfilling in urban areas, there are major differences in methods of treatment and disposal in the authorities surveyed. However, the landfilling of untreated waste remains the most widely used form of final disposal. Because of the difficulties of finding suitable sites for landfill purposes and the increasing waste regulation standards on all landfilling operations there is likely to be a move away from landfill in the future.

Table 4 summarises the amount of waste disposed of to landfill and by other methods by class of authority.

Disposal of Waste
Table 5 summarises the amounts and types of materials recycled by waste disposal authorities in 1995-96.

Recycling of Materials
Costs of Service Provision

This section provides detailed information of authorities' capital and revenue expenditure in 1995/96. Information is also provided on the net cost of specific processes and recycling credits. Tables 6, 7 and 8 show revenue expenditure for waste collection, disposal and unitary authorities respectively.

Costs of Service Provision : Waste Collection Authorities
Costs of Service Provision : Waste Disposal Authorities
Costs of Service Provision : Combined Waste Collection and Disposal Authorities
Revenue Expenditure per head
There has been much discussion on the calculation of recycling rates for waste collection and disposal authorities. For the purposes of these statistics the recycling rates have been calculated as shown in the Explanatory Notes on page 14. Total recycling rates for disposal, collection and waste management authorities are shown in Table 10.

Recycling Rates
Recycling credits are payments for the diversion of waste away from landfill. Recycling credits are statutory between Collection and Disposal authorities, however payments to third parties are optional. Columns 255 to 266 provide information on recycling credits, which is summarised in Table 11 below. Information provided by waste collection authorities has been excluded to avoid double counting.

Waste Disposal Recycling Credits

June 1997

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