Can HWRCs continue to deliver cost savings whilst meeting residents needs?

10 Oct 2018 09:29


Cash strapped local authorities have had to look long and hard at waste and recycling provision as high profile services compete for shrinking budgets. To save money, councils have had to take steps to limit the services they offer at HWRCs, reducing opening hours and even closing sites.

Yet following the BBC’s Blue Planet 2, interest in recycling has never been higher and consumers are truly engaged in the recycling story and a new YouGov poll out today shows residents prize both kerbside and HWRC provision so are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

With a Waste and Resource strategy due shortly after the budget, the research from FCC Environment shows that HWRCs truly are the front line for recycling for the majority of people, and reducing services further could significantly affect recycling rates at a time when the Circular Economy package is determining ever higher targets.

The Yougov poll showed that:

  • Recycling and rubbish services follow only social services, emergency services and education in people’s priority lists for council spending.
  • Spending on HWRCs is more important than recycling collections and even street lighting.
  • Almost a quarter of people visit their HWRC at least every month, and 64% have used their local HWRC in the last year
  • A third of people want to be able to recycle more items and would like their HWRCs to be achieving higher overall recycling rates.
  • One in three said it was important that HWRCs remained free to use and had longer opening hours

The survey also highlighted the postcode lottery of HWRC provision, with some people saying their local HWRC was “excellent” or “efficient” while others reported a long wish list calling for:

  • A charity repair and re-use shop
  • Accepting a wider range of materials
  • Better accessibility for people without cars
  • Longer opening hours
  • Reduced restrictions on vehicle size
  • More HWRCs (and fewer site closures) to reduce queueing time

Steve Longdon, Regional Director for FCC Environment said: “How a council manages its HWRCs has wide impacts on the community, from encouraging ever more recycling to supporting local charities with repair and upcycling schemes.

”FCC Environment runs 96 HWRCs for 24 local authorities around the country, and has focused on improving HWRC service with novel tactics such as resident permits and popular re-use shops.

“This Yougov poll shows clearly that residents really value local facilities and moreover they are valuable community assets. Residents have increasingly high expectations when it comes to recycling and re-use at HWRCs so lets harness that enthusiasm and put residents at the heart of developing such resources to maximise reduced budgets and the use-experience.

”A year into its new pricing and re-use strategy, FCC Environment is sharing its proven and reliable HWRC savings formula:

  • At re3 HWRCs (run in partnership by Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham borough councils and FCC Environment), non-household waste is charged for by volume or the number of items, rather than by vehicle type. Bracknell Forest’s executive member for environment, Cllr Dorothy Hayes MBE said the new charging structure was “fairer, more cost-effective and efficient”.
  • FCC’s upcycling shop in partnership with Wigan Borough Council and local charity The Brick sells salvaged, repaired and refurbished items to help ease poverty for homeless people in Wigan.
  • A partnership between Barnsley Council, Cycle Penistone and FCC Environment recovers bicycles from HWRCs to repair, rent and sell them at affordable prices. The programme supports a thriving apprenticeship scheme and employs five part-time staff. Jill Bramall, Director, Cycle Penistone said: “The launch of the recycling scheme through partnership with the household waste recycling centres has been one of the best thing to happen for Cycle Penistone CIC and I’m sure most of the customers who buy the bikes would say the same.”
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