Market Boost for green waste containers

The demand for containers for green waste collection has seen a surge this summer Otto reports. A pilot scheme which has been introduced in Kent shows how advance preparation can help achieve successful participation from residents

Otto, one of Europe's largest bin manufacturers, reports a surge in the sales of containers which are to be used specifically for green waste. Having seen a number of implementations, Neil Robson, Otto's Logistic Manager, has been especially impressed by the work of Swale BC, Sittingbourne, Kent.

"Particularly impressive has been the way in which Swale has used its existing resources to do this by a meticulously thought out pre-implementation strategy - it has not taken on additional staff but focused its energies really well."

Swale initiated its pilot scheme - involving 1,400 properties - at the beginning of July. Early results are now being analysed and the trend is encouraging. The 1,400 properties purposely included a broad mix of people and properties and included schools and community centres to act as focal points.

Additional bins
The Swale scheme, under the guidance of Pooja Punshi and Peter Chegwidden, has provided each of the 1,400 properties with two additional bins manufactured by Otto UK. These consist of a brown-coloured 240 litre wheeled bin, for the collection of kitchen and garden waste (organic/compostable) and a small 10 litre kitchen sort bin (the Kitchen Kaddy). The Kitchen Kaddy facilitates the transfer of organic waste from the kitchen to the main organic waste bin. It has a carrying handle, a lid to prevent odours in the kitchen and comes with biodegradable bins liners to ensure cleanliness.

Having first undertaken a comprehensive survey of current disposal habits - a questionnaire with a door-to-door follow-up of those which had not replied - the pilot scheme was formulated.

Prior to the distribution of the new bins, Swale BC undertook a major awareness campaign with lively and readable leaflets being distributed to the properties earmarked for the scheme. These leaflets said what was happening, why it was happening and gave details on the mechanics of the collection scheme. In addition to this, roadshows and demonstrations took place showing the new bins and the correct allocation of various types of waste and alerting the public to recycling opportunities. These included public "Bin Sorts" - a practical demonstration of allocating waste to bins and how to achieve better waste minimisation. This involves council officers rummaging through bins demonstrating the correct allocation of waste, the crushing of bottles and cans, techniques to reduce smells from the bins and countless other small but important details.

According to Pooja Punshi these Bin Sorts - still available free for individual households - have been instrumental in communicating with householders about the correct allocation of recyclables and about volume minimisation to ensure optimum usage of the new system. Swale has also set-up Helplines for any specific queries that may occur and to offer general help and advice.

Additional leaflets, listing the allocation of typical waste for the new Organics Bin under a Yes Please / No Thanks heading have also been distributed, allowing the properties to have an "aide memoire" close to hand at all times reminding them of what should, and should not, be placed in the organic waste bin.

The bin manufacturer, Otto, also worked closely in conjunction with Swale on the roadshows, providing staff and simple leaflets on How to Get The Best From The Bin with cleaning and maintenance hints. Otto also provided the Roadshow Caravan.
The collection in the pilot scheme is alternate weekly, one week Organic, the next General Household; calendars with the dates of these collections have also been distributed.

Initially, the contents of all brown Organic bins are being monitored. "Contaminated" Brown bins (very few and declining) are not sent for sorting and composting and the relevant households will be advised on better practice. However, Swale BC is very pro-active and General Waste bins are also randomly checked and again properties which dispose of organic waste in the General Waste bin will be advised that they could do better. Checks are also made to ensure no bins are missed, an event which could dishearten willing participants.

Newsletters are also being distributed to the 1,400 properties with news of the schemes progress and extra information - often relevant to the season ie currently information is on garden waste.

The results from the first six weeks (three cycles) are encouraging (see table 1). Prior to the organic collection scheme, some 50 tonnes of ordinary domestic waste were collected each fortnight from these 1,400 properties between January 2001 and June 2001.

Boost for composting
Greater awareness of the waste problem coupled with a genuine opportunity for easy disposal has instantly and dramatically increased the level of waste going towards compost. It also reveals just how much domestic waste is compostable - surely an incentive to all councils.

Swale has run a Paper and Card recycling collection for some time but these figures show the increase in tonnage collected since the start of the scheme, indicating that showing the philosophy of waste segregation can have beneficial effects that go wider than the specific items targeted.

Crucial to the success of the scheme has been the way that Swale ensured that the scheme was well publicised and that sufficient information about the philosophy and the mechanics of the scheme had been giving to participating households prior to the schemes commencement. Besides being a well thought-out scheme the enthusiasm and organisation (rather than just the resourcing) of the implementation team has been, for the most part, reflected by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the response from the majority of the 1,400 properties.


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