Limited space for storage between collection dates, lack of access to the kerbside and no prospect of individual wheelie bins for each household have always been among the obstacles faced when it comes to increasing recycling rates from flats.

In many cases this has led to local authorities having different recycling rules for flats and houses, or even refusing to collect any recyclables from flats.

In December next year, however, new legislation kicks in requiring local authorities to collect at least two materials for recycling from every household.

Anticipating the headaches this may be causing in council offices up and down the country, the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) has come up with a range of guidance on how this might be achieved.

The organisation has worked closely with officers from a number of councils where the problem is prevalent to ensure the information is relevant.

Debbie Derbyshire, recycling/waste management officer at the Preston City Council said: “WRAP’s guidance will enable recycling officers to make sustainable improvements in collection rates from flats. It is also very useful to be able to learn from other local authorities who have already implemented successful systems.”

Rachael Riding, recycling officer at Hackney Council added: “The guidance on recycling collections for flats has a mass of information for recycling officers. The information is relevant and comprehensive, and gives a lot of practical advice on how to make a recycling collection from flats work.”

The guidance highlights the complexities involved and offers advice on how to overcome them. For example, one major hurdle can be the large number of different groups to consider including residents, managing agents, housing associations, caretakers.

The guidance stresses the need to build relationships with all of these stakeholders and involve them in the process.

It also provides case studies of strategies that have worked for councils in different parts of the country.

Phillip Ward, WRAP’s director of local government services, said: “The key is to recognise the different circumstances in different types of flat and devise systems which are appropriate.

“This guidance helps recycling officers to identify the issues and the approaches which other authorities have used to respond to them.

“Together with some of WRAP’s other guidance on, for example Low Performing Areas, it will help recycling officers to create an effective service which will achieve buy in from residents and others that have a key role to play in the process.”

The guidance can be found online at

Sam Bond

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