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Case studies

There are not many authorities that have chosen to provide a 140 litre bin for residual waste collections although an increasing number use 180 litre bins. Of the top 30 nearest neighbours¹ to South Gloucestershire, only Stockport use the 140 litre option. Other authorities further afield in England using this option include Derbyshire Dales, Three Rivers and Northumberland.

The recycling performance for these areas is as follows:

County Authority type Recycling rate %
Three Rivers Collection Authority 63.2
Stockport MBC Collection Authority 60.7
Derbyshire Dales Collection Authority 55.2

In addition, Tameside, Trafford and Manchester have announced plans to adopt a policy to restrict residual waste allowance, with 140 litre bins.

In Wales restriction on residual waste is more commonplace compared to England and is achieved through limiting the number of residual waste bags that can be presented and smaller bins. Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Torfaen all use 140 litre bins and have recycling rates of 53.4 percent, 51.2 percent, 52.7 percent respectively. However, there are variations in how recycling rates are calculated between England and Wales.

North Somerset

North Somerset is one of our close neighbouring authorities and we work together as part of the West of England Waste Partnership. The authority covers a slightly smaller area, with 60,000 fewer residents than South Gloucestershire. They are ranked first out of our CIFPA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) Nearest Neighbour grouping¹. North Somerset significantly outperform South Gloucestershire’s recycling rate and are the highest performing West of England partner.

¹See Benchmarking and best practice page 15

Figure 2: Recycling rate of West of England 2014-15


The waste and recycling service provided in North Somerset is similar to South Gloucestershire:

Service North Somerset South Gloucestershire
Kerbside recycling collection Weekly kerbside sort using two boxes per household Fortnightly kerbside sort using one box and three bags
Kerbside residual black bin Fortnightly 180 litre wheeled bin Fortnightly 240 litre wheeled bin
Garden Waste Reusable bags charged at £2.50 Fortnightly opt in chargeable service £30 a year
Food Weekly separate Weekly separate
Household recycling centres Van permit scheme Resident registration and van permit scheme

The two areas of difference between South Gloucestershire and North Somerset that could be directly related to higher recycling rates in North Somerset are the more frequent, easier to use recycling service and the reduced size residual waste bin. North Somerset residents have 60 litres less black bin capacity compared to South Gloucestershire residents.

The difference in performance can be further analysed by looking at the kg per household per year (kg/hh/yr) by material stream.

Figure 3: Measures – kg per household 2014-15

Chart showing Measures – kg per household 2014-15

Overall, North Somerset collect more waste per person than South Gloucestershire, but more of that overall figure is recycling and garden waste rather than residual waste from the black bin.

North Somerset is of particular interest as the service they currently provide is very similar to the new service proposed in the waste strategy 2015-2020. Previously North Somerset provided a weekly unlimited black sack collection which changed to a fortnightly collection of 180 litre bins in 2010. At the same time weekly food recycling was introduced and the dry recycling collection changed from fortnightly to weekly.

Figure 4: Kerbside waste in North Somerset before and after residual restriction

Chart showing: Kerbside waste in North Somerset before and after residual restriction
There is a corresponding significant increase of recycling as food and weekly recycling are introduced and residual waste capacity is reduced.

If South Gloucestershire achieved the same per household figures as North Somerset we would see an increase in our recycling rate to 60 percent and:

  • decreased residual waste up to 15,225 tonnes
  • increased dry recycling up to 4,520 tonnes
  • increased food recycling up to 2,400 tonnes
  • increased garden waste up to 6,215 tonnes


Stockport is a metropolitan borough council in greater Manchester which introduced 140 litre black bins, or two black bags of waste every fortnight in 2010. It operates a four wheeled bin collection system, using bags in areas where bins are not suitable.

  • blue bin for paper and cardboard
  • brown bin or box for glass, plastic and metal
  • green bin for garden waste, they also offer a green food bin

Previous to the change in capacity, Stockport found that 60 percent of the bin contents could be recycled. In 2014-15 it has achieved a recycling rate of over 60 percent and has a significantly lower residual waste at 252kg/hh/yr.

If South Gloucestershire achieved the same we would see a drop in residual waste of 19,549 tonnes a year.

Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council provide the same service as North Somerset but do not achieve the same levels of performance. Bristol has the lowest recycling rate in the West of England. There are a number of demographic factors in Bristol that make it different to South Gloucestershire and North Somerset including more urban, denser housing with fewer gardens, a high student and transient population and a major city centre. The difference is highlighted in that they don’t appear in our CIPFA nearest neighbour group.

Relevance to the strategy

The research from the case studies highlights the difference that a reduction in residual capacity can make and supports the strategy aims of reducing residual capacity with smaller black bins.