Why have collections changed?

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Simply Weekly Recycling is here. Thank you for giving the new service such a warm welcome when we launched the new service to houses in May and June. We're now working to bring the Big Switch to flats, which will take place on a block-by-block basis over the summer and autumn.

Here's a summary of the most frequently-asked questions about Simply Weekly Recycling. We hope you find it useful.

Why change?

Several factors led us to conclude that we needed to change.

  1. We needed to recycle more. The old service recycled up to 48% of your household waste. But the best councils recycle around 60%. Research shows that you get more recycling if you make it easier and more convenient. So that's what we did. That's important because what you don't recycle is expensive to dispose of as refuse. Last year alone, refuse disposal cost Epsom & Ewell residents about £1.7 million.
  2. We needed to change our collection vehicles. Our old vehicles had reached the end of their useful lives. But the vehicles that collected paper, glass and cans from your recycling box are no longer built. That's because lots of councils have switched to mixed recycling collections. So we needed a different style of collections.
  3. We needed to reduce the cost of collections. The old service used fifteen collection vehicles. Simply Weekly Recycling uses two fewer. so costs less to run.

So Simply Weekly Recycling was born. More recycling, fewer vehicles, less refuse to dispose of.

Isn't it more expensive to collect things weekly?

Not for us. Although refuse at houses had been fortnightly since 2009, we still had to run weekly refuse collections for businesses and some flats. That's because they don't have the room for the size or number of bins needed for fortnightly collections. So we had to run two extra vehicles to provide those weekly refuse collections.

But now that all refuse collections are weekly, we no longer need those two extra vehicles. Alongside the simplification of the service, that means that we can actually run Simply Weekly Recycling using fewer vehicles than we used to.

Do I have to put my bins out every week?

No. That's one of the great things about weekly collections - you can choose whether to put your bins out or not. You know we'll be back again next week. Refuse is a great example. Typically, you'll only have a small amount in your refuse bin. So you can decide when you want to put it out, or not!

Remember,  garden waste recycling remains a fortnightly, subscription-based service.

Why can't I have a smaller refuse bin?

Many people have told us that they'd like a smaller black refuse bin than our standard size (180-litres). Smaller bins are, indeed, available and we would have loved to provide everyone with them when we did the Big Switch. But that would have cost around half a million pounds. So instead we have decided that whenever a standard black refuse bin is lost, stolen or damaged, we will replace it with a smaller 140-litre version. Over time that will reduce the size of many peoples' bins but it won't require extra budget to do.

There are lots of different types of plastic. Can they all go in the green recycling bin?

Yes. If it's plastic please put it on your green recycling bin.

Why can't I put glass in my green recycling bin?

The recycling in your green bin is mechanically sorted after collection. The separated materials are then sent on to be made into new products. If we collect glass, then some of it will smash. Glass shards will contaminate the recycling output, reducing its value. That will increase the overall cost of collections to residents. So, to maintain the overall quality of your recycling, recycle your glass only in your recycling box.

What happens to the money the Council makes from the recycling its collects?

Any money the Council makes from selling recycling is ploughed straight back into the service. That keeps overall collection costs to residents as low as possible. No money is diverted to any other service. It simply helps to give residents best-value collections.

Why are garden waste collections still fortnightly?

We've been able to integrate general recycling and refuse collections in a very practical way with Simply Weekly Recycling. But it's hard to further integrate garden waste collections in our operations. So moving garden waste to weekly would be expensive and significantly increase subscription prices.

And, although there can be lots of garden waste recycled at peak times, taken across the year there really isn't enough garden waste to justify weekly collections. We have considered hiring in extra vehicles and staff at peak times. But it would be expensive, increasing subscription prices, and not necessarily as reliable as the dedicated service. Overall, we believe that it is better to stay with the current, fortnightly service.