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Will Saying Goodbye to Oxford's Bins Boost Recycling Rates?

Will Saying Goodbye to Oxford's Bins Boost Recycling Rates?

Will Saying Goodbye to Oxford’s Bins Boost Recycling Rates?

Oxford’s recycling panel has recommended that bins should be removed from the city centre in a bid to boost recycling rates. The idea behind the recommendation is that without the bins, people would get a better idea of how bad the problem of people dropping litter actually is.

The council said they did not intend to act on the recommendation and that there are better ways of drawing attention to the litter problem without making it worse. They added that they are going to step up their efforts to keep the city centre clean, in preparation for the opening of a new shopping centre which may add to concerns about increasing litter.

The concerns about a falling recycling rate

Oxford currently recycles 51% of its waste, which puts it in the top 25% of local authorities in the UK. The main reason for the fairly high recycling rate is that they received a government grant of £350,000, which funded the Blue Bin Recycling League reward scheme, which has given residents hundreds of pounds in rewards for reducing waste and recycling since the end of 2015. But the grant is set to run out next year, and the council are concerned that recycling rates will fall again. The council said that it wants to do more to boost recycling rates, and is aiming to achieve 70% recycling.

The panel’s other recycling boosting recommendations

As well as removing bins from the city centre, the recycling panel made some further recommendations:

  • Public bins should be colour coded to indicate whether they are meant for waste or recycling, and more images should be used on bins to help people who may not speak English.
  • Recycling awareness sessions should be carried out in every school in the city.
  • Volunteer ‘recycling champions’, should be present in schools and the wider community.
  • Awareness videos should be made, showing how certain items are recycled, for example.
  • More educational waste disposal plant trips should be made available for members of the public.
  • The council should trial a ‘moving out’ service, where the council collects students’ waste at the end of their accommodation tenancy for a one-off payment.
  • Recycling bins should be installed with holes in the shape of drinks cans.
  • What is and isn’t recyclable should be made simpler with an increased use of imagery.
  • Good practice from other local authorities should be looked at.



Any recommendations that are put in place will not be enforced until autumn 2018, but in the meantime, local businesses have joined forces to keep the city’s streets clean.

The OxClean scheme that has been running for 10 years, encourages people to help clean up their communities, and now the team behind the scheme are encouraging businesses to keep the areas around their premises clean and litter free.

In the first 3 months, local hotels, coffee shops, the local library, and Marks and Spencer among others have signed up to keep the streets clean, year-round.

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