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Title: A Study of the Composition of Collected Household Waste in the United Kingdom - with particular reference to packaging waste
Author: of East Anglia University
Author: Environment Agency
Document Type: Monograph
Annotation: Environment Agency Project ID:EAPRJOUT_645, Representation ID: 213, Object ID: 1977
Waste from selected street blocks of 50 households from 20 different local authorities across the United Kingdom was sampled for compositional analysis in conjunction with a postal questionnaire designed to elicit information on household characteristics and behaviour. The main objective was to produce national estimates of the main constituents of collection round (dustbin) waste, with particular emphasis on the packaging content. The research design was based on the need to understand sources of variation in packaging and non-packaging wastes in terms of household characteristics generated by the questionnaire survey. Waste samples were hand sorted into 7 main (primary) categories and waste from one-in five households was further sub-divided into 38 (secondary) categories. The Agency data were augmented by data collected to a similar format from a study of household waste minimisation commissioned by aGoing for Greena. The combined sample included linked questionnaire and compositional data from 800 households at the primary level and 250 at the secondary level. Overall it was estimated that packaging waste contributed about 20% of the weight of collection round household waste, equivalent to 3.7 million tonnes per year for the United Kingdom (1997/98). In addition, it was estimated that 450,000 tonnes of packaging waste from household sources was being recycled: a recycling rate of about 11% of the total packaging content of the collection round waste stream. Seasonality in the ratio of packaging to non-packaging wastes was identified as a source of uncertainty in the estimates. The waste samples were mainly taken in April and May, when larger quantities of garden waste were likely to have arisen. A comparison with selected National Household Waste Analysis Project data for different seasons and methods of waste containment concluded that 20% packaging waste was likely to be an under estimate. The abest-guessa UK estimate, taking into account an element of seasonality was 4.5 million tonnes of packaging waste, including the recycling element. Total packaging waste was found to be positively correlated with a number of household factors of which household size (number of occupants) had the largest correlation coefficient. A number of household variables from the questionnaire survey were found to directly influence specific packaging components (e.g. pet ownership and metal cans, frequency of cooking pre-packed foods and plastic packaging, frequency of recycling and reduced quantities of glass/metal packaging). However, many of these factors were found to be inter-correlated with one another (e.g. method of waste containment and household size), which made interpretation of the main influences on the weight of packaging waste discarded more problematic. Overall the research demonstrates a method of linking household characteristics to data on waste composition as well as providing a means of producing national estimates for the main components of the collection round waste stream. Research to a similar design in the future should include provision for measuring seasonality of waste composition and all waste samples should be sorted to the secondary level. R and D Technical Report P347 v KEYWORDS Waste, packaging, refuse, recycling, EC Packaging Directive. R and D Technical Report P347 vi 1.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Subject Keywords: Waste; Packaging; Refuse; Recycling; Ec packaging directive
Extent: 108
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