The recycling scheme

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Two feasible options exist for the operation of a separation at source door-to-door collection service for materials suitable for recycling.

The first option is for each local council to operate the collection as part of the normal municipal collection. Some local councils have attempted to operate recycling schemes of this nature, but have limited the collection to glass beverage bottles, paper, and aluminium cans. Where this type of partial recycling scheme has been introduced, the participation rate does not usually exceed 40%, with the tonnage of material collected being far less than what could be reasonably expected. Consequently, most councils have found it to be too expensive to continue this type of scheme. This emphasises the need for a recycling scheme to offer the capacity to collect all materials from domestic refuse that are suitable for recycling, not only to make it easy for the participants to cooperate, but to maximise the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of the entire scheme.

Alternatively, the second option is for the council to tender the operation of the scheme to private contractors, whether they are traditional recycling groups, Marine Collectors, charity organisations or a new party entering the field of recycling. The tenderer should have full responsibility for all facets of the collection, separation and selling of the recyclable material to industry.

Contractual arrangements may be required, between the council and tenderer, to ensure that the collection service is frequent, reliable and effective in meeting its objectives. The arrangement may be required to extend into financial assistance during the initial stages of operation, depending on the tonnage of waste generated per dwelling, the tonnage that is collected per dwelling, and the participation rate per collection round.

In the event of a financial agreement being entered into by a local council and contractor, it is expected that the contractor would submit regular audits to the appropriate council, setting out the total tonnage of material being collected, with a breakdown of this total tonnage into the type of material, such as newsprint, cardboard, returnable bottles, and the like. Further more, an estimate of the average participation rate of dwellings, and the rate at which collection containers are being lost or damaged, and hence requiring replacement, and requests from larger residences requiring additional containers, should be included.

It is important to note here that the amount of domestic refuse generated per week, in the Perth metropolitan area, varies between 10 and 30 kilograms per dwelling, depending primarily on the number of inhabitants per dwelling, and their age distribution. Approximately 50% of this refuse can be recycled through the proposed scheme. Other factors influencing this amount of refuse generated includes the current economic condition, the location of the dwelling and municipality, and the season of the year (Ho, 1983).

Each local council is best able to investigate or analyse the patterns of domestic refuse generation within their own municipality. Most councils to date, have rough estimates of the annual mass of refuse collected, very few having conducted accurate studies or investigations into the nature of refuse generation within their municipality. The cost analysis takes into account the variations inherent between municipalities.

To attract or encourage the greatest participation rate possible, the recycling scheme needs to be reliable and frequent, but above all convenient and easy for residents to participate. The cost analysis shows the cost efficiency of operating collection schemes on a weekly and fortnightly basis.

Current schemes operating on a monthly basis do not adequately meet the needs of the community it services. Householders must have room to store paper, bottles and cans, and then shift the weighty bulk of this material out to a suitable position near the front of the property. The inconvenience of this exercise, and the lengthy period between collections ensures that only the dedicated participate regularly and to capacity.

Whilst weekly collections of recycling material are preferable in meeting the objectives of the scheme, fortnightly collections reduce expenses on a per week basis relative to a weekly service. Therefore, from the operator's point of view, it is preferable to initially establish fortnightly collections. The frequency of collection can be increased at a later date to correspond with an increase in the participation rate or the demand for a more frequent service from participants.

It is also possible with the fortnightly collection scheme to extend the collection to two rounds, or 10000 dwellings, utilising a single collection vehicle, and a two or three person collection crew. By collecting from each round on alternate weeks, the operational expense is the same as that for a weekly collection of one round, but the amount of recycling material collected could be effectively doubled. For example, assuming that each dwelling generates, on average, 20 kilograms of solid refuse per week, then approximately 40 kilograms are generated per fortnight.

If the collection scheme is reliable and the promotion and education for the scheme has been effective, then each dwelling is likely to separate between 70% and 100% of their recycling materials each week. Therefore, between 14 and 20 kilograms of recycling material could be collected from each dwelling every fortnight, for recycling.

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