Skip to main content
Access keys Home News Site map Site help Complaints Terms Contact us

Container trial

The existing service offers three different recycling bags, a box, a kitchen caddy and a food bin to residents to use to put out their recycling. Feedback from residents is that the current containers are confusing, with too many to store and that the bags do not last very long and blow away in the wind.

There are a number of different container options available and used across different authorities in England and Wales. Five were identified of interest to the research.

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5
image showing Recycling container trolley image showing Clear plastic bags image showing Stackable caddy boxes image showing Stackable trolley image showing Recycling boxes
Recycling container trolley Clear plastic bags Stackable caddy boxes Stackable trolley Recycling boxes

As part of the research into waste strategy and future service, a container trial was undertaken. 270 households across South Gloucestershire volunteered to take part in the trial. Clusters of streets were selected in different areas that represented a variety of different housing styles and demographic. Areas selected included Bromley Heath, Downend, Staple Hill, Kingswood, Stoke Park, Filton, Marshfield, Frampton Cotterell, Longwell Green and Hanham.

The trial lasted three months and all participants were asked to fill in a feedback survey. 169 responded to the survey. In addition, collection crews who worked on the routes in participating areas were asked for feedback. The feedback came from crews using the current stillage vehicle and also those trialling a single pass Romaquip vehicle. Feedback was also received from the focus groups on the five different containers.

The following summarises the feedback and options from the five different options.

Option 1 – Recycling container trolley

Cost – £35 inclusive of trolley, boxes and lids.

image showing Recycling container trolley

The recycling box trolley is a green metal wheeled trolley which can be tipped back and pushed to the collection point. It can hold three 55 litre boxes.

65 percent of households were very satisfied or satisfied with this option and 56 percent felt it was suitable for a weekly recycling service. This option received positive feedback from residents with regard to carrying, transporting, durability, weather resistance, tidiness, space saving and storage at the kerbside.

There were negative comments that the trolley and boxes were too big and difficult to manoeuvre through small spaces.

The focus group liked the simplicity, manoeuvrability and ease of use of this option. However, they did raise a concern about its suitability for all types of properties.

The crews were not keen on this option, specific concerns were about the stability of the trolleys and that it was hard to see which recyclables were in each box as the boxes were deeper.

Option 2 – Clear plastic bags  

Cost (assuming three bags a week) – £10 a year per household

image showing Clear plastic bags

Residents presented recycling sorted into single use plastic bags. This option received more negative feedback than positive and was the least popular of all the options.

56 percent of residents were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with this product. It scored low for both inside and outside use. Comments referenced bags splitting, filling with water, blowing away and were untidy to store. The main positive was that there was no need to bring containers back in after collection as they were single use.

This option divided opinion in the focus group sessions. It scored highly for ease of use but was also disliked. The bags were aesthetically unpleasing both inside and outside. Concerns were also raised over pests and lack of sustainability as the bags were only used once.

The crews also did not like this option. They felt it would be suitable for plastic and cans but not glass or paper due to the weight. They also felt that it would be very difficult to sort if residents did co-mingle items in the bags.

Option 3 – Stackable caddy boxes   

Cost – £11 per box

image showing Stackable caddy boxes

The stackable caddy boxes had a full lifting lid, incorporating a flap so items can be placed into the boxes whilst they are stacked. At 35 litres they are smaller than the existing boxes.

58 percent of households were very satisfied or satisfied with this option, whilst 23 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. The opinion of indoor and outdoor use was spilt and the product scored well for transporting and storage at the kerbside.

Positive comments were made about ‘stackability’ of the product and residents found them aesthetically pleasing.

Negative feedback included comments about the size and they were too small especially for plastic and cardboard. There were concerns over manual handling and a number of the lids were broken on collection after three months use.

The focus group provided similar feedback with attendees liking the manoeuvrability and aesthetics but concerns were also raised over size and durability.

This option was the least popular with the collection crews. They found that the lids made it difficult to tip the material into the vehicles, the boxes did not fit onto the vehicle rails, making sorting items difficult and raising manual handling issues.


Option 4 – Stackable Trolley

Cost – £66 per unit including boxes

image showing Stackable trolley

A trolley on wheels with three stackable boxes, the top box has a fixed lid and the lower boxes have flaps for inserting recyclables while stacked.

As with the other box options opinion on use indoors and outdoors was split. This option had the highest level of the satisfaction with 70 percent of respondents very satisfied or satisfied. Those storing the boxes outside had higher levels of satisfaction.

Positive feedback was given about the trolley being robust, neat, convenient to use and the ability to stack.

Negative comments were made about the trolley being difficult to manoeuvre.

The focus group also liked this option and was one of the most popular. The group were spilt on ease of use and felt that the boxes were difficult to fit to the trolley and raised concerns over manoeuvrability especially for properties with steps.

The collection crews gave more negative than positive feedback, with comments and concerns about the trolley being too big and bulky and unstable. The lids were problematic for emptying and the set was difficult to put back together after collection. The boxes did not work very well with the current stillage vehicles and were better with trialled single pass Romaquip vehicle.


Option 5 – Recycling boxes

Cost – £3 per box. Each household typically needs 2-3 every 3-5 years

image showing Recycling boxes

Households were given extra recycling boxes of the same type already in use. Some were given lids and some were given the boxes without lids.

40 percent of households were satisfied or very satisfied. Of those not receiving lids, 64 percent stated that their impression would have been improved if a solid lid had been provided as they could have stacked the boxes and recycling would have been dry. 60 percent responded positively about transporting to the kerbside but opinion was split on storage.

Positive comments were given about ease of use and durability.

Negative comments included size and the boxes holding water.

Overall the focus group feedback was equally positive and negative for manoeuvrability. There was a preference for hard lids. The group were shown an option for providing dividers for the boxes to make it easier to keep recyclable items separate which received positive comments.

The collection crews were very positive about this option. This may due to the familiarity of the boxes as they are already used for the current service. The boxes fitted well onto the vehicle hooks so it made sorting and loading easy especially with the trialled single pass Romaquip vehicle.


Relevance to the strategy

Taking all the feedback into account, the strategy recommends changing the current recycling bags and offering more of the current recycling boxes (option 5). Residents will still also be able to use bags for plastics and Cardboard.

This was the preferred option from the collection crews and the focus groups. This was because the boxes are easy to use on the vehicles, durable and easy for residents to use.

Although this option was not the clear favourite with householders on the trial, it is the option that best suits all housing types and family sizes.

The research suggested that solid lids would be preferred, however this creates a long term compatibility issue. Instead, boxes that could be stacked on top of one another will be investigated along with netting covers for containing materials that may blow away.

This option also maximises the existing boxes and is one of the cheaper options for purchasing additional boxes.