Tuesday 5 May 2015

£11 million down the drain - Barnet's Blue Bin Failure

Back in 2013, Barnet convinced everyone that a shift to blue bins for recycling was the answer to driving up recycling rates. Previously we had a presorted curb side collection which generated high value waste that could be easily and effectively recycled. Convinced that co-mingled waste was the way to drive up recycling from the then level of 35.99% as reported in council documents, see below, the council spent £11 million buying new blue and brown bins, a huge advertising campaign, people to visit every household telling them about the change and a new fleet of bin lorries to accommodate the new bins.

Roll forward two years and what do we find? After the initial honey moon period, recycling rates are now slightly lower than before the blue bins were introduced see below.

I wonder if Councillor Cohen will be trying to explain why after such a huge £11 million investment we are back to where we started?


  1. Why, if the target is 50%, is the KPI set at 41%? This is typical of the lack of ambition of this council.

  2. Not collecting my blue bin last week can't have helped if that experience, and it was on my land adjacent to the pavement boundary, has been replicated across the borough. I can understand a food bin being missed but not a thumping great blue bin.

  3. Pretty diabolical really. And if I'm not mistaken there is to be greater regulation coming that would put co-mingling recycling into jeopardy.

  4. Source Separated Collections to be Mandatory in England & Wales

    Under recent amendments to the Waste (England & Wales) Regulations 2011, from 2015 collection authorities will be required to arrange for the separate collection of recyclable materials such as paper, plastics, metals and glass, where separate collection is necessary to ensure waste undergoes recovery.

    Commingled collections of dry recyclables will only be permitted to continue where equally high levels of quality can be achieved through materials recycling facilities (MRFs).

    In response to the amendments the Resource Association - a trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries - said that it remains critically important that Defra's plans for the MRF Code of Practice and its Quality Action Plan convincingly demonstrate that the spirit of the guidance from the European Commission is maintained.

    Namely that where commingled collection of recyclables is still deemed to be a preferred method of collection, and that the consequent sorting and processing of materials reaches source separation equivalence in order to satisfy the requirements of the Directive.

    "At present, many UK MRFs do not achieve this and we believe that it is critical that the outcome of the deliberations about quality recycling and the MRF Code of Practice result in a new regime that drives MRF sorted material quality upwards rather than simply delivering a system that maintains the status quo but in an accredited form," commented Ray Georgeson, chief executive of the Resource Association.