Research and Analytics


CIPFA Waste Collection and Disposal Statistics

July 2003

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 seventh) 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.

More information can be found at our website:

2001-02 Survey

Returns have been received from 306 authorities, a response rate of 74%. For the fourth 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 2001-02 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 2001-02. 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 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. By 1992-93 this number had grown to 101. In 2001-02 this number is 211, 77% of all waste collection authorities. Figure 1 shows the extent of DSO versusPrivate provision of waste collection services in 2001-02.

Operational Management
The removal of abandoned/surrendered vehicles is increasingly being carried out by Private Contractor, mounting to nearly 75% of removal services. Provision for the removal of fridges/freezers by both DSO and Private Contractor has risen by over 110% since 1999-2000 and 10% since 2000-01.

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 (46%), back door collection (24%) and kerbside collection (22%). In addition to regular household collections there are an increasing amount of separate collections for recyclable materials. In total 228 authorities reported some kind of separate collection for recyclable materials representing 59% 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 2001-02.

Weight of waste arising (Grossed data)
Household waste represents 88% of total waste arisings and since 1997-98 household waste per head of population has risen by 22.5%. Figure 4 illustrates this trend.

Five Year Trend in Household Waste per head of population in England and Wales
In addition to the increase in waste generated by households, there are an increasing array of various waste sreams' (i.e. materials) that require unique and sometimes costly methods of recovery. Many of these derive from European Union directives that become integrated with UK policy and legislation. For example the End of Life Vehicle directive (ELV) in response to the growing cost of de-polluting and disposing of abandoned or surrendered vehicles, of which there were a third of a million in England and Wales in 2001-02. The recovery, treatment and disposal of electrical items is another growing problem.


Underpinning these trends are government targets for improved recycling rates. In England the government has set aspirational targets for household waste recycling of 25% by 2005, 30% by 2010 and 33% by 2015, alongside statutory Best Value Performance Indicator targets for 2003-04 and 2005-06 of 17% and 25% respectively. In Wales local authorities aim to recycle or compost at least 40% of municipal waste by 2009-10.

Local Authorities have responded with an increase in kerbside collections of recyclable materials. The number of dwellings served by these collections has increased by 41% since 1998-99. This amounts to 59% of domestic households in England and Wales provided with some form of kerbside recycling collection (see Figure 12 for the range of collections provided).

In addition to direct collections is the provision of drop off/bring sites and other schemes involving the local community and private organisations (see Table 12 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 79 to 88 authorities since 2000-01.

Operational Management
Table 3 below identifies the amount and sources of waste arising in waste disposal authorities in 2001-02.

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 overleaf).

As alternatives to landfill, recycling and incineration with energy recovery are the most commonly used methods. The volume of waste sent to landfill has slowly but steadily decreased whilst recycling has increased, as demonstrated in table 4 below. The proportion of waste sent for incineration remains relatively constant, 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 2001-02, by class of authority.

Disposal of Waste (Grossed Data)
Table 6 summarises the amounts and types of materials recycled by WDAs in 2001-02. Due to the difficulty in attributing tonnages to a WDA or its constituent WCAs, for the first time in 2001-02 WDAs have been asked to record recycling tonnages for waste received direct from household and other sources through their constituent WCAs. The resulting increase in tonnages recorded by WDAs will be reflected in higher recycling rates on the disposal side. Section 3 details the trend in rates of recycling across England and Wales.

Waste for recycling collected at Civic Amenity sites is included with the WDA. Combined Collection and Disposal Authorities tonnages have been included in both tables (i.e. table 6 below and table 2 page 6). The tables should therefore be viewed independently to avoid double counting.

Recycling of Materials (Grossed Data)
Recycling Rates

For the purposes of these statistics recycling rates have been calculated as shown in the Explanatory Notes on page 15. The formula used to calculate the these rates has been changed from previous years in the allocation of waste for recycling from Civic Amenity Sites. Previously an assumed 10% of Civic Amenity waste has been attributed pro rata to constituent WCAs from their WDA. This assumption has been set aside for 2001-02 therefore all Civic Amenity waste for recycling will be included in the WDA recycling rate. A further change has been the removal of the assumption that two thirds of mixed/combined waste should be considered to be household waste. For the five year trend illustrated in figure 6 below previous years recycling rates have been adjusted to ensure year on year comparisons can be made.

For the first time in 2001-02 WDAs have been asked to record recycling tonnages for waste direct from household and other sources through their constituent WCAs. The resulting increase in tonnages recorded by WDAs will be reflected in higher recycling rates on the disposal side. The rates shown for collection and disposal should therefore be viewed independently from each other, as combining the two would lead to double counting of waste collected by constituent WCAs for recycling and sent to the WDA. Table 7 below shows recycling rates for England and Wales in 2001-02.

Recycling Rates in England and Wales in 2001-02
Figure 6 illustrates that while recycling rates are improving, recycling activity needs to be accelerated if government targets are to be met (25% by 2005).

Five Year Trend of Recycling Rates
Costs of Service Provision

This section provides detailed information of authorities' capital and revenue expenditure in 2001-02. Information is also provided on the net cost of specific processes and recycling credits. Tables 8, 9 and 10 show this information 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
The Cost of Recycling

The cost of recycling has necessarily increased as a percentage of Net Revenue Expenditure. In 2000-01 recycling expenditure by WCAs as a percentage of Net Revenue Expenditure stood at 7.0%. In 2001-02 WCAs are spending 7.6% of Net Revenue Expenditure on recycling schemes and initiatives. Specific expenditure on materials recycling and recovery has risen by 10% over 2000-01 to nearly £93 million. This investment demonstrates a conscious effort towards improved recycling performance and is paying dividends in terms of rising recycling rates. Despite this, at least a threefold increase in recycling expenditure over the next five years will be necessary to achieve the aspirational targets. Waste Minimisation will also play a key part in addressing wider attitudes to waste, authorities spent over £3.25 millions in 2001-02. In December 2002 the government announced £76 millions of funding for the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund. The funding of recycling will be a crucial concern as local authorities face the challenge of meeting recycling targets.

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 332 to 345 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.

July 2003

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