Waste containers are a crucial part of waste collection and yet they are very much the unsung heroes; the vital link in the chain that can be easily overlooked, except when they are spilling over with materials, in which case they attract the justifiable ire of residents.
With cuts to local authorities’ budgets, councils are keen to become more efficient and offer their residents cost-effective services.
Ealing London Borough Council may not have been in the top 10 of the government’s local authority recycling league table for 2015/16, but it is already recycling more than 50% of household waste; an improvement on its household waste recycling rate of 40% in 2010/11.
Indeed, with the aim of increasing the number of local households that are recycling their waste materials, Ealing launched its alternate weekly wheelie bin collection service last June which, according to the council, it has found to be more cost-effective.
The local authority also provides on-the-go bins to ensure that local people have the best opportunity to recycle when outdoors. Two types of on-the-go bins are currently used across the borough: Nexus 200 and Trojan bins. These are sited on streets, close to parks and near schools and colleges, with the aim of allowing residents to recycle paper, cans, glass, card and plastic.
But what about recycling banks which collect recyclable materials in large volumes?
Cheshire-based UK Container Maintenance (UKCM) works with more than 150 local authorities across the UK, offering them the opportunity to refurbish, modify and reuse their waste and recycling container stocks.
“Over the years we have seen a real shift in the type of containers we refurbish; 90% of the recycling containers we refurbish are four-wheeled metal containers that can be fitted with a variety of recycling lids,” says Emma Elston, UKCM’s director. “Containers need to have an impact on the public, so the signage we put on the containers has become much more visual and user-friendly which encourages people to correctly dispose of waste and reduce the possibility of cross-contamination.”
Keeping containers secure is now one of the biggest priorities for clients, according to Elston. “We sit down with customers to correctly identify where the containers will be situated and what the units will be used for so that we can present the most practical locking mechanisms to them. By fitting and retrofitting various locks, it gives customers peace of mind.”
How much of an input do clients have when it comes to refurbishing their stock?
“So many customers have old containers worth thousands of pounds gathering dust in their yards. Sometimes they know exactly what they want and other times they look to us to suggest new ways of making the most of damaged stock,” explains Elston before adding: “We like to take a creative approach and present a range of ideas from simple restorations to full refurbishments with different functions. By offering complete solutions from new colours and printed logos to replacing parts, it in turn saves money and has a positive impact on the environment, so it is a win-win situation.”
Fairport Containers, whose flagship site is in Chorley Lancashire and who also has depots in Buckinghamshire and Somerset, says it has seen an increased customer demand for specialist containers that are tailored to meet specific requirements.
Steve Collinson, managing director of Fairport Containers, tells RWW: “Like the wider waste container industry, our recycling bank customers are keen to combat the ever-increasing problems with donation theft, vandalism and, sadly, the homeless seeking a dry place to rest. We replace many existing barrel chutes with high roll security chutes, which eliminates the risk of theft and any unauthorised person accessing the bank. There have been several reports of people literally ‘fishing’ the contents out of the banks, but with this high roll chute, there is no access at any point to the bank contents.”
Fairport Containers has designed the Casette Recycle & Upgrade System, which allows it to simply cut out the old chute and slide a new one into the existing bank, which the company says “hugely reduces the cost for customers”.
According to Collinson, the company’s combination recess lock is also a popular choice in anti-theft precautions; this sees a heavy-duty metal bar concealing a combination padlock that cannot be cut or tampered with.
“Again, this feature can be fitted to any existing bank without major work to the rest of the container, making it another cost-effective solution,” states the MD.
And as local authorities know, cost-effective services are the way forward in today’s world