As individuals, we are all responsible for our waste, what we do with it, and how we handle it in the most responsible way. The way we manage our waste has huge effects on the environment, so we must ensure we are doing it correctly. Good waste management strategies are easy to adopt, we just need to think about the end of life of our rubbish and the best way it must be dealt with. Things like ensuring we do not litter any waste, and instead choose the right bin to help with its circularity aspects – if it can be recycled, then we must recycle it!
However, as well as us, there are other people involved in the handling of waste, including local authorities. Whilst we are responsible for our own waste, it is local authorities that are responsible for all waste and how it is handled in their area. From residential and commercial bins to the communal waste bins around towns, villages, and cities, all of these are managed by the council. The councils will provide bins to residents and businesses to collect their waste and recycling within, they will also organise the collection of these typically weekly. So how can they do more?
Residents of households in particular usually are offered a range of bins or bags to capture the different forms of waste produced from homes. Typically they include a general waste, dry recycling, garden, and in some cases food waste bins/bags. Whilst the same types of materials are collected, how they are collected and the consistency will differ in each local authority. One thing that must be made clear by local authorities is their waste collection preferences, it must be well specified what is collected, how it is collected, and when. Contamination is a huge problem in waste management, this contamination could be the result of a lack of good understanding of your household waste collection strategies. A good form of practice to follow for local authorities is to make it very clear to residents what goes in which bin, and arguably more importantly, what to NOT put in each bin. This clarification can be done in the forms of newsletters, leaflets, social media or website posts and even printed bins or bags.
Community / on-the-go Waste
Waste outside of our homes is also managed with the help of local authorities, who provide waste bins in many highly populated areas of their communities to help capture rubbish on the go. The responsibility of the council is to provide the bins and empty them regularly, whilst it is the public’s responsibility to use them. However, it is still noticeable that sometimes these bins are not being used as they should, and litter around these areas is still a big environmental issue. Whilst whoever discarded this litter should take full responsibility, there may be a few factors that lead to this wrongful behaviour, which could be helped by local authorities. On some occasions litter is found in areas where there are no bins, if this becomes a regular occurrence it may be an idea to introduce bins into this area – the hope would be that it will help to dramatically decrease litter levels or waste crime.
A second problem causing a litter influx could not be the lack of bins, but the lack of room in these bins. If the waste receptacles are overflowing, and the rubbish could seep out, people then just add to this overspill with their waste. If this is an issue within your area, it might be worth increasing the collections of these bins, or perhaps introducing a few more in that area. This way they can help keep on top of the litter issue by leaving the bins free and ready to use.
Tackle the litter issue
Littering is an issue that happens throughout every local authority, whilst the blame for littering lies with the individual who committed the waste crime, Councils can do their part to tackle the issue. As well as increasing bins and waste collections, simple anti-litter promotion can also help put a stop to waste crime. Cromwell has recently developed an anti-littering promotional pack, free to download and used by all.
The pack consists of posters, social media images and videos for posting, and an information leaflet. The posters and social media posts have 4 different designs, all of which are targeting hotspot litter areas or problems, these include dog waste, Flytipping and littering in areas such as beaches and streets. We welcome you all to download and use the above material – our goal is to help create a cleaner, greener, and more resourceful planet, and our new anti-litter pack is a step towards this sustainable goal.
Whilst it is our responsibility to handle our waste, Local Authorities can help us in many ways, together we can manage it in the most effective and sustainable way possible.