Research and Analytics


CIPFA Waste Collection and Disposal Statistics

September 2002

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, Metropolitan Authorities, English Unitaries and Welsh Unitaries are responsible for both functions.

Two specific survey series were installed after this reorganisation; a joint initiative between the DETR, (now ODPM - Office for the Deputy Prime Minister) the Welsh Office (now National Assembly for Wales - NAfW) 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 new surveys have emerged after extensive consultation with local authorities, and in 1995-96 the first of the current series of Combined publications (this being the sixth) was produced.

Since 1995-96 the response rates have been as high as 80% enabling data to be ‘grossed’ up (see below). The advent of Best Value accounting and the importance of recycling and landfill targets have contributed to the value of these statistics and the consequent demand for comparable data.

There are now a large number of organisations in the UK collecting Waste data. With the possibilities of electronic data collection and dissemination of information via the web CIPFA aims through consultations with local authorities and other bodies, to build on its own already considerable database, and ensure these statistics are reflective of local needs.

2000-01 Survey

Returns have been received from 314 authorities, a response rate of 75%. For the third time, where appropriate, grossed data have been used in the publication to take account of both missing values and non-responding authorities. The baseline data for this process is the ODPM’s (then DTLR) Waste Management Survey in 1997-98. CIPFA has assumed increases in waste arising and net expenditure year on year based on real data from responding authorities and applied this to the baseline data. Totals have been apportioned across the various waste categories and expenditure analysis based on CIPFA’s real data received for the 2000-01 survey. The following details the scope of the survey:

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 2000-2001. It also identifies the net cost of specific processes e.g. special collections, 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:
  • Waste Collection
  • Waste Disposal
  • Recycling Rates
  • Costs of Service Provision

Authorities responsible for both waste collection and disposal i.e. London boroughs, Metropolitan districts, English Unitaries and Wales are included where appropriate in both Sections 1 and 2.

Abbreviations used in the publication

  • WCA - Waste Collection Authority
  • WDA - Waste Disposal Authority
  • CA Site - Civic Amenity Site
  • DSO - Direct Service Organisation
  • LAWDC - Local Authority Waste Disposal Company
  • MRF - Materials Recycling Facility
  • DETR - Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
  • DTLR - Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
  • ODPM - Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
  • NAfW - National Assembly for Wales
  • DEFRA - Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • BVACOP - Best Value Accounting Code of Practice
  • Kg - Kilogram
  • CFC - Chlorofluorocarbon

Waste Collection

Operational Management

Prior to the implementation of the Local Government Act 1988, refuse collection was mainly carried out by staffdirectly 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. By 1992-93 this number had grown to 101. In 2000-01 this number is 225, 82% of all waste collection authorities. Figure 1 shows the extent of DSO versus Private provision of waste collection services in 2000-01.

Operational Management
The removal of abandoned/surrendered vehicles is increasingly being carried out by Private Contractor, amounting to nearly 80% of removal services. Provision for the removal of fridges/freezers by both DSO and Private Contractor has risen by over 90% since 1999-2000.

Waste Containment

The type of container used by households has been proven to directly influence the quantity of waste arising. The most common methods of waste containment are plastic wheeled bins and plastic sacks. Authorities that have introduced wheeled bins generally report higher waste per capita compared to those households where the waste is placed in disposable plastic sacks or conventional dustbins. However local factors and the costs of introducing new containers can be prohibitive. Figure 2 illustrates the types of waste containment used.

Waste Containment
Methods of Collection

The most common methods of collection are edge of curtilage (45%), back door collection (26%) and kerbside collection (20%). In addition to regular household collections there are an increasing amount of separate collections for recyclable materials. In total 230 authorities reported some kind of separate collection for recyclable materials representing 51% of all households. Figure 3 demonstrates the various types of collection offered to households.

Recyclable Collections
Waste Arising

Table 1 identifies the amount and sources of waste collected by waste collection authorities in 2000-2001.

Weight of waste arising (Grossed data)
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 total waste arising.

However, data on waste is often limited to volumes, thus estimates of weight and the statistics have to be treated with caution. An estimated 97% of household tonnage reported was actually weighed.

The mean quantity of waste collected per head in 2000-01 was 439 kilograms. Across all responding authorities, waste collected per head ranged from 278 kilograms to 636 kilograms. The majority of authorities (70%) collected between 350 and 499 kilograms per head. Figure 4 illustrates:

Household Waste per capita
Government legislation required that half of all recyclable household waste should be recycled by the year 2000, which is approximately 25% of all household waste arising. However this became a secondary target in 1995 when the government introduced a new target of 40% for the year 2005 - recovery to include recycling, composting and energy recovery.

Local Authorities have responded with an increase in recyclable collections and recycling schemes, either through direct collections (see Figure 3), the provision of drop off/bring sites or other schemes involving the local community and private organisations (see Table 3 on page 13 showing the scope of this activity in terms of recycling credits).

Table 2 details the amount of household waste collected/received for recycling by collection authorities and/or its agents.

Recycling of Materials (Household Waste only) (Grossed Data)
Waste Disposal

Operational Management

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 (Civic Amenity sites). 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. The private provision of Civic Amenity sites in particular has risen from 45 to 79 authorities since 1999-2000.

Operational Management
Table 3 below identifies the amount and sources of waste arising in waste disposal authorities in 2000-01.

Waste Arising (Grossed Data)
Methods of Waste Disposal

The restricted opportunities for certain types of disposal e.g. landfill in urban areas, means that 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. The difficulties of finding suitable sites for landfill purposes, the increasing waste regulation standards on all landfilling operations and the introduction of the Landfill Tax in 1996 mean that alternative forms of disposal are being sought.

The underlying purpose of the Landfill Tax is to ensure that landfill waste is properly priced to reflect its environmental impact. It is intended to encourage business and consumers to produce less waste and to recover value from more of the waste that is produced, for example, by recycling. The tax is levied per tonne on the weight of waste deposited. A lower rate is applied to inactive waste which is not contaminated (see table 5).

As alternatives to landfill, recycling and incineration are the two most commonly used methods. Since 1996-97 the volume of waste sent to landfill has slowly but steadily decreased whilst recycling has increased, as demonstrated in the table below. Incineration as an alternative appears to have remained relatively unchanged, though the cost of new facilities and public opposition to them make incineration a controversial option for local authorities.

Trends in Disposal Methods
Table 5 summarises the amount of waste disposed to landfill and by other methods in 2000-01, by class of authority.

Disposal of Waste (Grossed Data)
Table 6 summarises the amounts and types of materials recycled by waste disposal authorities in 2000-01. The tonnages shown are in addition to those tonnages provided by collection authorities in table 2 (page 5). CIPFA guidance recommends that the waste streams between WCAs and WDAs are recorded separately though it is inevitable that some amount of double counting may take place. This is due to the difficulty in defining whether a tonnage is solely attributable to the WDA or its constituent WCA. The separate recording of these streams of recycling means that in order for a county area view of recycling activity both the WDAs and constituent WCAs recycling tonnages should be taken into account.

Tonnages for Combined Collection and Disposal Authorities are included in both tables.

Recycling of Materials (Grossed Data)
Recycling Rates

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 15. Total recycling rates for collection, disposal and combined authorities are shown in Table 7. The separate recording of recycling tonnages by WDAs and their constituent WCAs means that both rates should be taken into account when taking a global view of recycling activity, hence for the first time regional rates have been shown. The evidence points to higher recycling rates across southern regions.

Recycling Rates by Region (Grossed Data)
Recycling rates are the point of much conjecture in measuring the performance of authorities and their recycling activities. CIPFA has used a consistent formula to calculate recycling rates based on data received from authorities. Using this formula over the last five years shows a trend of steadily increasing recycling rates. Given the government's target for recycling 40% of household waste by 2005, it is clear further improvements are needed. However the difficulties faced by local authorities in reaching these targets in terms of cost and public attitudes to recycling cannot be underestimated. The chart below demonstrates the five year trends of recycling rates based on CIPFA data.

Five Year Trend of Recycling Rates
Costs of Service Provision

This section provides detailed information of authorities' capital and revenue expenditure in 2000-01. Information is also provided on the net cost of specific processes and recycling credits. Tables 8, 9 and 10 show revenue expenditure for WCAs, WDAs and Combined WCAs and WDAs respectively.

Costs of Service Provision - Waste Collection Authorities (Grossed Data)
Costs of Service Provision : Waste Disposal Authorities (Grossed Data)
Costs of Service Provision - Combined Waste Collection and Disposal Authorities (Grossed)
Revenue Expenditure per tonne
Recycling Credits

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. Examples of third parties are Town and Parish Councils, schools and voluntary groups. Columns 290 to 313 provide information on recycling credits, which is summarised in Table 12 below. Information provided by waste collection authorities has been excluded to avoid double counting.

Waste Disposal Recycling Credits (Grossed Data)
Interpretation of the statistics

Attention is drawn to the significant caveats that should be borne in mind in looking at the statistical tables. The wide variety of local conditions make it impossible to isolate any single performance or efficiency and extreme care should be exercised when undertaking any inter-authority comparisons. For the purposes of this commentary and summary tables, data have been 'grossed' up to take account of the non-responding authorities.

Users should also appreciate the problems associated with the estimation of quantities of waste collected and disposed of and differences in accounting practices, in particular the methods of financing capital assets. Also, standards of service may vary considerably between localities, e.g. frequency of collection and quality of service provision. Method and organisation of waste containment will affect costs.

September 2002

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