Industry award won by council for cleaner streets scheme

Published: Friday, 7th October 2022

National recognition has been earned for the city council’s Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) service – in the form of a prestigious Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Award.

At the organisation’s 2022 awards ceremony, staged on Wednesday (October 5), the MHRC initiative, which launched in the summer of 2021, earned top honours in the Best New Idea category.

Since its introduction as part of a wider £7.2million investment into street scene services to meet the wishes of residents for cleaner streets, the MHRCs have visited all 69 of the city’s wards, offering residents a free and convenient option to dispose of unwanted items and to recycle waste.

The service was designed to address multiple challenges around waste disposal, principally fly-tipping or dumping, and inaccessibility to the city’s regular network of household recycling centres for many citizens.

It focuses on collecting bulky household waste through a service of just four teams of two core vehicles (a recycling collection vehicle and traditional regular waste wagon), with extra vehicles to collect electrical and electronic equipment waste and items suitable for re-use.

Although the service is provided to all 69 wards across the city, support is focused on the neighbourhoods that need it most. Areas with a high prevalence of fly-tipping, high density housing (typically with low car ownership) and other communities known to face challenges using the permanent household recycling sites, benefit from the service most – with visits from the MHRC service roughly every fortnight.

The areas of need are identified by a combination of insight, using fly-tipping and Land Audit Management System data, local operational knowledge and community feedback. The data is being regularly reviewed and if or when numbers suggest changes are needed, the council will adjust the visit schedules.

Since the phased start of the initiative in July 2021, the MHRC service has made more than 1,000 visits to Birmingham’s communities and collected more than 2,000 tonnes of waste, alongside items for the recycle and re-use scheme.

Levels of usage have showed sustained demand from the areas that have been prioritised by the service – and early data has revealed an increased rate of decline in fly-tipping with 490 incidents reported in the week ending 1 October 2022 compared to 995 incidents reported in the week ending 13 June 2021, just before the service was launched. In contrast, the national trend based on the most-recently available figures showed fly-tipping significantly increased in the year to March 2021 (Defra data: 16 per cent national increase in domestic fly-tipping from April 2020 to March 2021).

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “This award is a tribute to our hardworking street scene staff who have risen to the challenge of introducing this bold innovation for the households of Birmingham.

“We know cleaner streets are a top priority for the people of Birmingham – and this initiative is giving people another way to responsibly dispose of their unwanted items and waste.

“The early feedback and data has been really encouraging, which is why we have committed to the continuation of the service, and will continue to review the data and refine the service if changes can make its impact even more effective for our residents and environment.”

In addition, in December, the council will hear if the MHRC service has been triumphant in the Local Authority Success category of the National Recycling Awards 2022, after being shortlisted for the honour last month.

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