Bin Storage FAQs
How can we get more good quality recycling from flats?
Getting clean recycling from flats is notoriously difficult, with average levels typically sitting well below 10%. To reach the 65% national recycling target by 2035 it is absolutely crucial that we nail this, particularly as in some areas they can make up 80% of the overall housing stock.
We have first to understand the root causes, which can be basically be summarised as not making it as easy for people to recycle as it is to dispose of refuse, if not easier.
The binstores on most blocks of flats are barely fit for purpose with the overall volume having trebled over the last few decades, the need to separate this into separate recycling streams and a drastically reduced frequency of collections. They are frequently difficult to get to, being tucked away in dark corners that attract vermin and antisocial behaviour. The bins themselves are often overflowing and surrounded by fly-tipped material, and even the lids themselves are an obstacle, being dirty and difficult to lift.
You’ll be pleased to know that fortunately this sorry state of affairs is not beyond recovery. Here are the steps that you need to take to maximise recycling capture from flats :
· Indoor Storage
Ensure that every resident has the means to segregate and store small amounts of recycling inside their home. This is likely to involve issuing caddies and liners for food waste and reusable bags for paper, card, tins, glass and plastics.
· Bin Capacity
Provide the block with the correct size and number of recycling bins as recommended by your local Council. They will normally supply more if needed, but they’ll want to ensure that the residual waste bin capacity is not overdone as this removes the incentive to recycle.
Co-locate refuse and recycling bins within easy reach of every household so that no-one has to go out of their way to recycle. BS5906 recommends a max travel distance of 30m from the door of each flat; this is a horizontal travel distance and we also recommend that it is on a well-frequented route.
· Ease of Use
Having reached the deposit point we need to make it as easy as possible for the residents to place their recycling straight into the correct bin without opening doors or lifting lids, particularly for food waste. There should be really clear signage confirming what materials can and cannot be placed in each bin and this should be reinforced with physical size-limited apertures to prevent contamination.
Maintain regular communications with residents about what they can put in each bin, compliment them on their performance where appropriate. Put the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that the deposit point is kept clean and tidy at all times; investigate any non-conformance in terms of contamination or fly-tipping and take the necessary enforcement action.
2. How can we get recycling from properties that don’t have room for recycling bins?
This can be a real problem for dwellings in older terraced streets, HMOs and flats above shops; some may still be on a sack collection which does not make for a great streetscene to say the least, and finding a solution is becoming even more urgent with the Environment Bill placing an obligation on Councils to ensure that they collect the full suite of recycling from every household.
The only solution really is to create on-street communal deposit points to serve these properties, and while this may lead to loss of parking in some instances, solutions can often be incorporated into wider pavements or traffic calming schemes.In addition to the points in 1. above it is also necessary to introduce some form of access control, as they will likely be very much in the public domain and more at risk from unauthorised use. This can take the form of key or code-operated locks, or even fob/app-based locking systems which will give a wealth of valuable data on who is using the facilities and when.
3. How do we stop flytipping around communal bin stores?
Flytipping is generally considered to be the work of rogue builders and waste removal contractors, but in fact 65% of all flytipping incidents are bagged household waste. There is never an excuse for this flytipping, excess material should be taken to an HWRC or alternative collection arranged. The situation is greatly exacerbated however by communal binstores that are no longer fit for purpose.
The overall waste volume has increased dramatically since many blocks were built, the environmental impact generating a need to separate this into the different recycling streams and drastically reduce the frequency of collections. Binstores are frequently difficult to access and attract vermin and antisocial behaviour. The bins are often overflowing and surrounded by fly-tipped material, which means that the bin men won’t empty the bins and you have a costly clean-up operation on your hands. Even the lids themselves are an obstacle, being dirty and difficult to lift so there’s little incentive for residents to keep this tidy.
However, here are some fail-safe steps that you can take to turn this round very quickly:
· Bin Capacity
Ensure that every block has enough storage capacity for both waste and recycling, or you will always have issues with overflowing bins, sidewaste and missed collections. BS5906 gives us a table for calculating a total weekly volume, and the formula for flats is 70L/bedroom plus 30L/flat. This has to be multiplied up depending on the frequency of collection, and then divided into the required number of bins for the residual waste and recycling streams as required by your local Council.
Find a storage location within easy reach of every household; both BS5906 and the Building Regs reference a max travel distance of 30m from the door of each flat; this is a horizontal travel distance and therefore excludes stairs. We also recommend that it is on a route that is well-frequented by residents as not everyone will go out of their way to recycle and we need to make this the default option.
Make sure you can satisfy the pull distance requirements for the collection teams; it must be within 10m of the kerb if large 4-wheel containers are used and on a route without steps or steep slopes. This distance increases to 25m with smaller wheelie bins, but if these requirements cannot be met, we’ll need to arrange for the bins to be presented for collection by a caretaker.
If possible, locate the bins in a well-lit position in full view of residents, this acts as a massive deterrent to fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour. However, incorporating some screening to the view from the street will dramatically reduce the incidence of fly-tipping from external sources, and also consider access control if the bins are in a position where they are subject to unauthorised use.
· Ease of Use
Having reached the deposit point we need to make it as easy as possible for the residents to place their refuse and recycling straight into the correct bin without opening doors or lifting lids. There should be really clear signage confirming what materials can and cannot be placed in each bin and this should be reinforced with physical size-limited apertures to prevent contamination.
Ensure that the deposit point is kept clean and tidy at all times; investigate any non-conformance in terms of contamination or fly-tipping and take the necessary enforcement action.
4. How can I make sure my bins are not a fire risk?
Well first of all residual waste and recyclables are a significant fire risk due to their combustible nature, and the utmost care should therefore be taken when considering the location and design of your binstore, particularly when in common areas or adjacent to public space. To underline that there are around 30,000 refuse fires attended by UKFRSs every year on average. The Government FRA advice relating to sleeping accommodation, which includes the common areas of flats, states that bins should be secured within a compound away from dwellings to prevent them from being used to start a fire in an arson event. The CFPA-E offers valuable guidance on how this separation distance can be calculated, and this forms the basis or our advice as follows:
· Safety Distance
Many Risk Assessors use the 6m rule contained within the first part of the CFPA-E and FPA guidance in isolation, and while this is a good rule of thumb it does not take into account the size of the fire load as the number and size of bins varies. The simplest method of accurately calculating the safety distance between waste and recycling bins and dwellings is to take the width of the bin(s) facing the dwelling and add 2.5m. This is measured from any point where fire or smoke could enter the dwelling, such as door and window openings, flues and combustible cladding or soffits and bins should be excluded from this zone.
· Alternative to Safety Distance
If it is impossible to move the bins outside of this zone due to the lack of space available, then the safety distance can be substituted with a structure providing 30 minutes fire resistance. Ensure that all elevations of the structure are protected, including the roof and access points.
· Good Housekeeping
All the points raised in section 3 regarding capacity, location, good design and maintenance are important from a fire risk perspective because they dramatically reduce the incidence of sidewaste and flytipping which gives rise to an unacceptable fire load close to dwellings.