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Second national award won by council for cleaner streets scheme

Published: Wednesday, 7th December 2022

More independent recognition has been earned for the city council’s Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) service – in the form of a prestigious National Recycling Award.

At the 2022 edition of awards ceremony, staged on Tuesday (December 6), the MHRC initiative, which launched last year, was named as winner in the Local Authority Success category.

It follows similar success in October, when the scheme won the Best New Idea category at the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Awards.

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, convenient, option to recycle waste and dispose of unwanted items.

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

It focuses on collecting bulky household waste through a service of 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 any items suitable for re-use.

Although the service is provided to all 69 wards, 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, 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 visit schedules.

Since the phased start of the initiative in July 2021, the MHRC service has made more than 1,200 visits to Birmingham’s communities and collected more than 2,500 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 data from the scheme has revealed a significant rate of decline in fly-tipping reports.

Weekly numbers since the early summer of this year are trending in line with figures reported in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 (figures increased significantly during the various lockdowns, which contributed in part to the decision to launch the MHRC service).

In the week ending 12 November 2022, there were 413 incidents reported, compared with 782 in the corresponding week just 12 months earlier – which represents a 47 per cent decrease for the same period.

On an annual basis, there is an equally encouraging trend, with a 12-month decrease in fly-tipping reports of 22 per cent.

And to seek further gains in this regard – and improve recycling rates – work is currently ongoing to look at how the MHRC wagons can be reconfigured to enable residents to recycle a wider range of item types.

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “We know from the feedback of citizens that the MHRC service is something that is valued, so it is great to get this further endorsement nationally from those within the waste sector.

“Ultimately the positive response, the statistics we are reporting, and awards like this are fantastic recognition for the hardworking crews who deliver this service, week-in and week-out, across all parts of the city.

“Cleaner streets are understandably a top priority for the people of Birmingham – and this initiative shows we will always consider bold ideas and any innovations that help us achieve this aim.”

The National Recycling Awards Judging Panel 2022 added: “This is a novel approach to the challenge faced by urban areas with low car access and could be replicated elsewhere. The service was designed around the needs of users and there was clear evidence of its positive impact.”

Background notes

The fly-tipping reporting data referenced above is as follows:

Number of cases reported between Week 43 of 2021 and Week 42 of 2022 = 30,624

Number of cases reported between Week 43 of 2020 and Week 42 of 2021 = 39,615

This represents a year-on-year decrease of 22 per cent

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