With one of the lowest rates of recycling in Essex, recycling in Colchester is under scrutiny. Although overall rates have risen from 40.29% (2010/11) to 43.4% (2014/15), general progress still falls short of the improvement demanded by ambitious EU and UK targets that require councils to achieve a recycling rate of 50% for household waste by 2020. Despite the local council introducing various schemes such as plastic recycling collections from city flats and food waste collection services, Colchester’s progress means it ranks only 11th out of the 12 Essex boroughs for waste recycling.
The heavy weight of waste
Part of the problem is the significant weight of residual waste from Colchester households which still ends up in landfill sites rather than being diverted to recycling centres. Although council initiatives have attempted to improve households’ awareness of and access to the town’s recycling facilities and services, the actual weight of household waste going into landfill actually rose between 2011 and 2013 and, despite having reduced a little since, is still considerably higher than desirable in the context of those ambitious recycling targets.
Review of recycling
Colchester council regularly reviews its systems for recycling and does offer extensive recycling services to its residents. These include recycling collections from kerbsides and flats, food waste collection and 7 days-a-week opening hours at recycling centres. Additional services are also offered for those who are physically or otherwise impeded from getting their recycling out to the kerbside or into communal bins for collection, through the council’s Assisted Collection scheme. This allows collection point to be established within property boundaries, rather than having to ensure the items are kerbside, to make it easier for those residents. Those households eligible for Assisted Collection also receive the benefits of free delivery of recycling containers and paid-for garden waste sacks.
There is also a dedicated bulky and electrical waste collection service for Colchester residents but, like many other councils, these collections incur a significant cost, for example £25.45 for fridges and freezers and £41.41* for 1 – 6 items of furniture such as sofas, beds and mattresses. As well as the daunting costs, householders may also experience additional factors which make this service less than ideal:
- Payment has to be made in advance, at the time of booking the collection.
- This payment is non-refundable, so there is no incentive for households which have booked the service to seek a greener alternative in the meantime, such as repurposing their items or passing them on to someone else who can use them.
- Items must be out on the kerbside by 7am on collection day (Monday), something which isn’t always convenient or possible for some people. As a result, many people using the scheme actually take time at the weekend to clear their goods out of the house, leaving streets littered with large items whilst awaiting collection (which can be at any time, not necessarily early) on Mondays.
- Although the council’s bulky item page states that the council will “safely dispose” of unwanted items, it doesn’t offer any clarity as to whether this disposal is via landfill or recycling – something which those looking to ensure that their items will not end up languishing in landfill might want assurances of for the amount they are required to pay.
Greener and cleaner
For those seeking greener and cleaner alternatives for the disposal dilemma of bulky items such as beds and mattresses, the use of private companies for collection and recycling is an added option. Companies such as Collect Your Old Bed run a dedicated collection and recycling service in Colchester which offers:
- Less cost than council collection, with single bed collection and recycling starting from £11.99.
- Collection services which include options for outside pick-up (convenient for customers who don’t want to wait in for collection) and inside collection services, ideal for those who would find it difficult to move their beds or mattresses outside for collection.
- An easy to use three-step online collection booking system, using the Collect Your Old Bed website. This involves:
- Entering the home postcode;
- Entering the number and types of items to be collected;
- Selecting a collection date and completing contact details.
There is also no ambiguity over whether the collected items are then off to the dump or off to be recycled: Collect Your Old Bed offer a full guarantee that 100% of every bed collected, including mattresses, bases and frames, will be recycled, for example:
- Carpet padding and other textiles can be produced from recycled mattress materials;
- Pet litter and bedding, biomass fuel and garden mulch and chippings can be produced from recycled wooden bed parts;
- Hardware items, many of which can be recycled time and again, can be produced from recycled steel mattress parts and bed base springs.
Reviving recycling in Colchester
By raising awareness of these additional options for recycling in Colchester, particularly with the bed recycling services offered by Collect Your Old Bed, it’s really possible for responsible residents of Colchester to improve those recycling rates and lessen the local landfill, to improve their progress towards national waste disposal targets.* Prices correct as of Dec 15 (source: Colchester council website)