Why boxes, not bins, for recycling?

In the UK there are two main types of recycling collections.

The first is Kerbside Sort, which is what we use, where different items are loaded into compartments on the back of trucks by loaders on the kerbside.

The second is Co-mingled, which is where people get a wheelie bin and all their recycling is loaded into that mixed together.  That bin is then tipped into the back of a truck, still mixed, and taken to a place called a Material Recycling Facility (or MRF) where the different materials are sorted.

In both cases, sorted materials are then sent on to re-processors who recycle them back into materials that can be used in manufacturing (see our End Use Register to find out where your recycling goes).

There are pros and cons to both systems. For co-mingled recycling you need the additional multi-million pound infrastructure to do the sorting that is already done at kerbside under the kerbside sort system.  On the other hand, the convenience and containment of a single wheeled bin is considered attractive by householders who use that sort of service.

There are key deciding reasons why we in Somerset use the Kerbside Sort system.

  • First the quality of material sorted at kerbside is better, which means re-processors prefer to use it and it is more valuable. That means we can always say to you with confidence that what we collect for recycling will actually get recycled.
  • Second we avoid the very significant cost of the extra infrastructure and operating costs of a MRF (as well as supplying over 200,000 wheeled bins) .
  • Third, we don’t have the very heavy carbon footprint of an energy hungry MRF

Because the kerbside sort system is both financially and environmentally better for Somerset our view is these strong advantages outweigh any disadvantages.