The London Borough of Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Council is an outer London borough and a Waste Collection Authority. It covers an area of some 3 900 hectares, with a population of about 222 300 and 97 517 households. The council's waste and recycling collections have been carried out by Verdant since 2007.

The authority recognised that the ways in which property is developed can have a significant impact on the health and safety of the crews collecting waste and recyclables. Much of this is historical and linked to the changing methods of collection, waste generated and the increased emphasis on recycling.

Typical of the problems faced by the collection crews are:

Bin truck in narrow entry

Restricted vehicle access

Two people in hi-viz moving a large overfull wheelie bin along a rough cobbled allyway

Awkward terrain

Person in hi-viz acessing bin in walled house courtyard

Restricted access

Bins behind a railing


(NB: These are library pictures and are not necessarily representative of conditions in Waltham Forest)

Under existing planning guidance, authorities and developers are encouraged to ensure that the collection of waste is taken into consideration at the planning stage of the development cycle. The authority took this as an opportunity to provide detailed guidance for prospective developers and architects. The guidance document is sent to anybody in the early stages of the design process before submitting a planning application and is entitled 'Waste and Recycling – Storage and Collection Requirements - Guidance for Architects and Developers'.

The guidance details:

  • Types of waste and recyclable collections, including acceptable materials and frequency of collections;
  • Types of bins in use in the authority area, their dimensions and storage requirements;
  • Typical waste generation from a given type and size of property;
  • Types of refuse collection vehicle in use, including vehicle dimensions and turning circles.

Plans for any development must explain how the criteria set out in the guidance are to be met. The developer and architect are then called into a meeting with the council's waste and planning sections as well as an operational manager from Verdant, the waste collection contractor. Proposals are discussed and agreed for the development at these meetings.

Failure to draft and agree suitable arrangements will lead to the planning application being rejected, unless there are justifiable, practical reasons why such arrangements cannot be made, but these exceptions are unusual.

The perceived key to the success of this initiative is the early consideration of waste collection in the planning cycle and inclusion of the waste collection contractor. This all helps to design out at an early stage some of the traditional problems encountered by refuse collectors, particularly for multi-occupancy buildings in high-density urban areas.

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Updated: 2021-06-30