Business > Efficiency

Council websites struggle to describe complex waste collection regimes

David Bicknell Published 02 March 2018

Better Connected report discusses actions councils should take to communicate via their websites how they want residents to put out rubbish


A report from the Socitm Better Connected programme suggests council websites are facing a battle to effectively describe the complex rubbish collection regimes being put in place to meet recycling targets.

The report, Find out about putting out rubbish for collection , is the second of three survey reports on how councils websites are presenting waste and recycling information and services. 

The report finds that 57% of council websites are providing a good or very good service, but that problems arise not least because every council does kerbside collections differently, even for the most basic of things, such as what category of rubbish goes in which colour of bin.

The report notes that English councils are set to spend £3.6bn on rubbish & recycling in 2017-18, accounting for around 8% of all council expenditure, at a time when councils are under continuing pressure to reduce costs because of austerity.

Councils are also required to meet an EU target of 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020. From a peak of 45% recycled in 2014, industry reports suggest performance has been dropping away, making it likely that a significant number of councils will face fines for non-achievement of this goal.

With the council website being a 24/7-available, 'single-version-of-the-truth' vehicle for councils to communicate how they want residents to put out their rubbish, the report suggests that if councils want to achieve the cost efficiencies of people getting things right first time, this is where they should be focusing effort.

‘Putting out the bins’ and separating and storing waste between collections has become very complicated because of recycling targets, with a proliferation of bins, bags, and caddies coming into use. Added to this, Better Connected says, every council does things differently.

The survey tried to assess how clear councils are being about the key issues: what bins are collected when, what waste goes in which, what items will not be collected, and what happens when the householder gets any of these things wrong.

Where the upshot of a mistake by the householder in allocating waste to the different receptacles results in a missed bin collection, the consequence is cost, inconvenience and dissatisfaction, something all parties, but most of all councils, want to avoid.

The survey covered all UK single tier councils - just under half of all councils that do kerbside collections - and found that 56% of them provide a good or very good service for this task, with some excellent practice revealed at a number of councils recommended in the report. 

The “Find out about putting out rubbish for collection” is the second of three Better Connected surveys on waste and recycling online. “Take rubbish to the tip” (county councils) was published in late February and “Order garden waste collection” (covering district councils) will be published later in March.

The reports follow earlier ones on social care (English councils with responsibilities for adult social care) library services (Scottish and Welsh councils) and parking.

The Better Connected programme is owned and was originally developed by Socitm. Since May 2015 it has been run in partnership with Boilerhouse Communications.

Anyone can access ‘all-council’ reports and individual council headline results from Better Connected surveys at   However, full details of individual council reviews are only available to Socitm subscribers.

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