Weekly flexible-plastics collections twice as effective as fortnightly

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Frequency of collection is a key determinant of participation in kerbside collection schemes for flexible plastics, a key report has revealed.

The FlexCollect Project found that more than twice as much material was handed over for recycling when visits were made weekly rather than fortnightly.

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Under the government-funded initiative, a consortium including Suez, Ecosurety, Recoup and the Waste and Resources Action Programme trialled flexible-plastic collections across nine authorities over three years.

The project estimates that almost 900,000 tonnes of this material is placed on the market in the UK every year, in the shape of crisp packets, bread bags, sweet wrappers and other items.

Halfway through the trial, the latest report showed that when collections took place every seven days, an average of 0.46 bags were presented per household each time.

Meanwhile, when the material was picked up every 14 days, just 0.36 bags were typically left out, averaging at 0.18 bags per household per week.

The operational data was backed up by monitoring completed by Resource Futures, which showed participation of up to 68 per cent for weekly collections, compared with just 45 per cent for fortnightly.

As more material is collected, further end market options will be tested and the project aims to establish the framework for understanding cost per tonne of collections, sorting and reprocessing.