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Understanding Waste Growth at Local Authority Level - WR0121

Understanding waste growth is at the forefront of waste policy at local, regional and national level not least because of the planning concerns over adequate long term infrastructural requirements and the increasing costs associated with its sustainable management. Waste Strategy 2000 and the Strategy Unit’s report ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ reported 2-3% per annum rates of growth in municipal waste arisings. More recently, Waste Strategy 2007 has indicated a 0.5% per annum rate in England, yet many local authorities still assume far higher growth rates. With this in mind, Defra commissioned research into the links between household waste and household expenditure data (Modelling Impacts of Lifestyle Changes on Household Waste Arisings - WR0107) – one of the key findings of which suggested that household expenditure on waste-creating product categories was still exhibiting strong growth. However, it is also acknowledged that waste policy factors, such as free garden waste collections and provision of wheeled bins, have also had a significant influence on household waste arisings.

To follow on from the previous research, the aim of this project is to develop a set of detailed case studies to allow a more detailed understanding of reported household waste trends over a minimum period from 2001/02 – 2005/06, in relation to local waste policy influences. These case studies will examine the differences between those areas that have reported falling quantities of waste and those where waste has continued to rise.

This project will comprise the selection 28 local authorities and carry out in-depth analysis of waste arisings data for the period 2001/02 – 2006/07. This will be complemented by visits to each of the participating local authorities to discuss current and historic waste data recording / reporting, waste policy procedures and collection arrangements and authority-wide socio-demographic changes. Following the analysis of the results, a project report will illustrate the key findings associated with growth / decline in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) arisings together with an indication of the waste policy measures that appear to successfully mitigate against waste growth.
The principle aim of this study is to inform a more fundamental understanding of the factors that influence growth in MSW by developing a set of detailed case studies. These case studies will act to contrast the situations between different areas, those that have reported falling quantities of waste and those where waste arisings have continued to rise.

With this in mind, the objectives of this project are as follows:

Devise a systematic selection process to select a shortlist of local authorities for detailed case-studies. The intention is to recruit a minimum of 28 local authorities that are to be split equally between areas with rising and falling waste trends and across different area types, as defined by the ONS area classification.

Design an information capture template to cover historic and descriptive fields. The template will be expected, as a minimum, to capture data on:

a) total waste arisings and waste arisings per household (and the method of calculation);
b) changes to collection waste infrastructure (such as introduction of separate kerbside garden waste collections and alternate weekly collections etc)
c) key annual demographic changes including migration, changes in household numbers and sizes;
d) locally held municipal waste statistics, alongside fields from WasteDataFlow and precursor paper surveys;
e) changes in waste statistics reporting procedures;
f) anecdotal and empirical evidence of changes in the size and management of other non-household waste streams (e.g. commercial, street cleansing and bulky wastes);
g) any information available on local trends and policies from the earlier period 1995/06-2000/01
h) any available compositional datasets that might help with the interpretation of municipal waste arisings data.

Conduct a series of visits to meet with representatives from each of the local authorities to collect and discuss municipal time-trend data with a view to populating and supplementing the information capture template. The information gathered from this exercise will be compared with time series data for 2001/02 to 2006/07. Data pre-dating this time frame should be incorporated into the analysis, if possible.

Consolidate the information gathered during the local authority visits and review individual case study factors for waste increases/decreases and an initial analysis of the significant factors across the case study examples.

Conduct further visits and analysis across a smaller number of variables / local authorities in order to improve the robustness of the evidence and fill any gaps in the initial data collection exercise.

Compile and present a final project report to the project board outlining the findings from the study.
Project Documents
• Final Report : WR0121 "Understanding Waste Growth at Local Authority Level" - Main Report   (2316k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0121 "Understanding Waste Growth at Local Authority level" - Addendum   (1692k)
• Final Report - SID5A : WR0121 "Understanding Waste Growth at Local Authority Level" - Summary Report   (398k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2009

Cost: £90,585
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Resources Futures
Decision Support Tools              
Environmental Protection              
Methodologies/forecasting tools - data collection              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Waste Management