Attitudes to waste and recycling
Whether the focus has been on ‘slop buckets’, microchips in bins or council ‘bin spies’, the topic of waste has occupied an unusually large number of media column inches. What do the public think about all of this? Are households happy with their waste services? How do they feel about the trend towards Alternate Weekly Collections (AWC), or the introduction of food waste collections?
Key findings of this country-wide research with households includes:
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- Almost eight in 10 households (78%) are satisfied with their waste collections - 33% are ‘very satisfied’ and 45%‘fairly satisfied’.
- Fortnightly rubbish collections appear to have a small impact on levels of satisfaction, with 74% of households with a fortnightly collection satisfied compared to 83% with a weekly collection. However, two other factors – living in a flat and social renting – have a more pronounced impact, with satisfaction falling to 69% among both groups.
- A minority of households report a ‘serious problem’ as a result of their waste collections.
- Most frequently identified – by 14% – is rubbish dumping / fly tipping, followed by a lack of bin capacity (13%), flies (11%) and smells (10%).
- Problems with vermin (e.g. rats, foxes) or the council refusing to take rubbish/recycling away are reported by fewer households (6% and 8%, respectively).
- In many cases there appears to be no link between reported problems and collection frequency. For example, households with fortnightly rubbish collections are no more likely than their weekly counterparts to report a ‘serious problem’ with vermin (e.g. rats, foxes), fly tipping, lack of bin capacity or the council refusing to take rubbish away. These problems are actually more closely associated with factors such as high concentrations of flats and areas with higher levels of social and private renting.
- However, there are two notable exceptions – smells and flies – which are associated with fortnightly waste collections. For example, 14% of those with a fortnightly rubbish collection cite smells as a serious problem compared to 6% with weekly collections.
- Food waste collections appear to play a role. Fortnightly food waste collections potentially exacerbate the problem of smells and flies for some households, which is not true of weekly food waste collections.