Before we can decide how we can increase the current level of recycling, we need to know what materials there are in the household waste stream which are capable of being recycled and for each of these materials, how much is available. As indicated in Chapter 1, there is very little reliable data available on the amount of waste arising. There is, however, quite detailed information available on the composition of household waste. Such waste is collected both directly from the household in the form of ‘dustbin’ waste and indirectly through householders taking their waste to civic amenity sites. Household waste also includes bulky waste which is collected from households as a special service, street sweepings and litter. It has been estimated14 that of the 20m tonnes per annum of household waste, 3-5 million tonnes is civic amenity site waste (approximately 20 per cent of the total). The composition of dustbin waste and civic amenity site waste is very different, as shown in Tables 3.116 and 3.2.17

The analysis of household waste composition is normally done on the basis of weight. Much of this work has been carried out by the Warren Spring Laboratory and in the absence of any local information, the national average figures shown in Table 3.1 are normally used. This data should, however, be used with care. N ot only does the level and composition of waste arising vary with geographic location and socioeconomic factors, but there are also seasonal variations, particularly with regard to garden waste, as indicated in Table 3.2. It is possible to carry out a local waste analysis in order to establish both the levels and the composition of waste arisings, but this is an expensive exercise. In order to generate representative data, samples of waste must be taken from a number of different and representative sites

Table 3.1 Analysis of household waste (dustbin waste)

Table 3.2 Analysis of household waste (civic amenity site waste)

in the area being considered, and such samples should be taken periodically over at least a three month period, but preferably over a twelve month period.