As the UK pulls out all the stops to meet EU and national target for 50% of waste to be recycled by 2020, some councils have been so pro-active in getting the message out to households and businesses about their facilities for collection and recycling that they cannot meet demand – and are now finding themselves with backlogs of bulky waste!


The case of Kirklees

Kirkless Council are one council struggling with this. Having improved their performance so that 34% of all waste is now being recycled, reused or composted in 2011, the rate plummeted to 30.9% in 2013/2014. Ironically, part of this worrying drop is being blamed on the fact that the council’s bulky waste collection process cannot keep up with demand, with local press reporting that some residents in the Huddersfield area have been waiting at least six weeks to have their bulky items collected.


Rubbish service?

Although waste rubbish collections for landfill are largely unaffected, collection of bulky items such as mattresses and beds, white goods and furniture have fallen behind schedule, something which is thought to be because the council is one of only a handful in the UK which still offers free collection of bulky items, instead of allowing specialist bulky waste collection companies to take the reigns. As such, and with the additional costs involved of ensuring ethical recycling, the council is reported to be struggling to find the resources to meet the 30,000 plus requests for bulky item collection each year.




Communities in chaos

As some households and businesses wait for their items to be collected, others are taking matters into their own hands to get their items moved on, creating an additional problem which literally flies in the face of the council’s efforts to improve their green reputation and recycling statistics … fly tipping.

Communities across the Kirklees area have been reporting a significant rise in incidences of fly-tipping, with some 250 incidences being reported every month. Whilst some of these incidences may be described as ‘accidental’ ie: items being taken outdoors to await the council collection which is behind schedule, communities are seeing much more deliberate dumping of items across the area. In turn, the problem of fly-tipping requires a clean-up campaign which causes another drain on the council’s resources as well as causing problems for local communities which are struggling with the effects of fly-tipping as:

  • Lack of respect for the community and environment, creating dumping grounds in residential areas;
  • Non-environmentally-friendly disposal – often items which could have been recycled originally are in such a poor state of weathering or damage by the time they are removed that they need to be put into landfill instead;
  • Health and safety hazards.

Of course, Kirklees is not alone with this problem. In other areas of the UK, such as Scotland, the issue of fly-tipping has gone viral, with a new reporting and name-and-shame website being one of Scotland’s local authorities’ main weapons in their continued efforts towards zero waste … and zero tolerance of fly-tipping. The resulting FlyMapper website is yet to be rolled out in England, but its initial success looks to be something that could support Kirklees council and its local communities in stamping out fly-tipping, and help to shame any businesses who include fly tipping into their practises in order to cut costs.




Alternative action

However, another way to address the fly-tipping problem is to take alternative means other than simply throwing away waste. Currently, local businesses, SME and communities as a whole are being encouraged to seek out alternative actions to get bulky waste, such as furniture, white goods, beds and mattresses recycled     promptly and safely:


Charity Furniture Shops

Passing on to the less-fortunate via charity furniture shops and social enterprises is an option many local councils are supporting, as this allows households to recycle their unwanted bulky items in environmentally-friendly and socially-aware ways.


Freegle / Freecycle

Freegle, also known as Freecycle in the UK, is a nationwide online group-based method for passing on household, garden and clothing items via local community groups.


Ethical recycling collection companies:

There are a growing number of ethical recycling companies which are often viewed as being more environmentally friendly, with the added benefit of helping to make small businesses look good by pro-actively seeking out ethical ways to dispose of their waste.


Since beds and mattresses are one of the most fly-tipped items in the UK, we reached out to ‘Collect Your Old Bed’, who as the name suggests are well placed to comment on recent trends:

“We’ve seen an increase in businesses as well as households requesting ethical recycling services over the years, which we’ve put down to a mixture of both a desire to be more ethical and responsible with their waste, and as a way to ensure more prompt collection, and avoid council backlog. Our direct links with recycling depots mean that the items are not dumped into landfill, and instead are recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.”

–     Jayson Barrett , Collect Your Old Bed.

As a further push to be environmentally friendly and ethically sound, we also offer various recycling services as well as our bulky waste service. View all our waste disposal services here.