Kerbside recycling in overdrive

I consider our kerbside recycling service to be pretty good – we have regular separate collections for general recyclables and green waste; but Newcastle-under-Lyme Council in the UK has taken its kerbside recycling service to another level.

In our situation all the recyclables go into one bin and green waste into another. Residents of Newcastle-under-Lyme can recycle a wider variety of waste, but need to separate:

– Food waste
– Cardboard
– Plastic bottles
– Clothing and textiles
– Green waste
– Paper
– Cans, glass bottles and jars

.. and different items are picked up on different weeks.

It’s the first time I’ve heard of food waste and textiles in a kerbside scheme too – it’s a pretty good idea when you consider that food waste is a major problem. While reducing food waste to zero is of course a better solution; at least instead of it going to landfill, under the Council’s scheme it is better utilized.

The program sounds like a recycling-conscious household’s dream, but according to this article on The Telegraph, it has met with fierce criticism due to its complexity and the amount of space needed to store various recyclables while awaiting pickup.

I can certainly sympathize with this – I have enough trouble remembering what week which of our 2 recycling bins go out and in order to motivate people to go green, processes need to be as simple as possible.

I guess if recycling is mandatory in that district though, it boils down to “polluter pays”. If we create trash, we need to be responsible and play an active role in dealing with it if the tools for doing so are on our doorstep so to speak.

If we want someone else to totally deal with recyclables separation, then we need to accept this likely being reflected in higher council rates needing to be paid by householders.

A positive side effect of such stringent guidelines would be households perhaps giving more consideration to purchase decisions in terms of packaging and the initiative, if broadly adopted, would also put further pressure on companies to reduce packaging.

The Council is claiming the scheme to be a huge success and states over 50 per cent of the borough’s waste was recycled in the first month of the full service – a massive increase from 28 per cent in 2009/10. 310 tonnes of food waste – which usually would have been incinerated – has been turned into electricity. 473 tonnes of garden waste has been turned into compost for use on local farms.

Aside from receiving bins for the recycling, households receive a free roll of corn starch bin liners, a roll of red sacks to recycle plastic bottles and a textile sack for clothes.


Ways to reduce food waste
Recycling energy savings
Recycling by the numbers
How is stuff recycled?
Downcycling and upcycling