RECOUP Local Authority Survey Confirms Disposal ‘On the Go’ in the UK is Failing

There is an increasing shift from Government, media and the public around the leakage of used packaging into the natural environment. Reducing litter, disposal ‘On the Go’ i.e. in public spaces such as high streets and parks, and use of Deposit Return Schemes are all being debated.

Disposal of used packaging away from home is a key strategic issue to tackle littering and promote positive disposal behaviour, including recycling.

RECOUP carried out a survey of Local Authorities in the UK with the aim of gaining an insight into the service provision and collection ‘On the Go’, and nearly 100 Local Authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland responded to the call for information.

Key Barriers

A consistent picture soon became apparent that ‘On the Go’ disposal in the UK was failing.

There is inadequate ‘On the Go’ collection infrastructure for both collection of recycling and residual waste material. There were key barriers reported, particularly around developing a recycling ‘On the Go’ infrastructure:

–  High levels of contamination
–  Inadequate budget for consumer communications and education
–  Procurement, maintenance and collection costs

Cost vs Benefit

For many Local Authorities the cost vs benefit does not add up. There are significant costs in providing ‘On the Go’ collection services and high levels of contamination from the material collected, and many Local Authorities reported that the budget can be better spent on increasing quantities and reducing contamination in kerbside collections. 

Urgent Investment is Needed

It was made clear investment is needed to prove the business case for ‘On the Go’ collection schemes. To do this effectively it was reported good data is needed to assess costs and potential benefits, with funding needed for procurement and installation of bins, scheme maintenance and collection of material, and also for consumer communication and education to promote effective use of the schemes.

RECOUP Technical Manager, Steve Morgan stated “We are increasingly seeing the priority placed to ‘On the Go’ services to reduce litter and also provide services for the public to recycle away from home. This survey shows the scale of the challenges that Local Authorities are facing to provide effective collection services.”

Steve Brunt, Joint Assistant Director Streetscene at Bolsover & North East Derbyshire District Councils said “We found that the operational difficulties outweigh any potential benefits to ‘On the Go’ collections we would have gained through contribution to our combined recycling rate. The cost vs benefit needs to be proven. We have concentrated on increasing performance kerbside dry recycling and organic waste collections.”

Report Download

The Local Authority Disposal ‘On the Go’ Survey report is now available to download from the RECOUP website.


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