Waste collection is a fundamental element of a municipal solid waste management system. The main goal of a waste collection strategy is to collect in a timely and economical manner, as much correctly source separate waste as possible, in order to ease the subsequent waste sorting and/or treatment stage with the aim to maximise re-use and recycling.
Waste authorities design and implement waste collection strategies that depend on the characteristics of the collection zone (e.g. population density, types of buildings) and public acceptability of different collection methods. They also need to consider the optimal number of the separately collected waste fractions for their case, the targets set in the local waste management strategy and set by national or European legislation, environmental attitudes and perception of inhabitants as well as, when relevant, seasonal variations.
Best practices municipal solid waste collections are typically implemented via door-to-door or kerbside collection rounds from household and businesses, when appropriate within a pay-as-you-throw system, or at municipal waste collection centres. The collection rounds are typically provided for the most voluminous MSW fractions, with municipal waste collection centres that accept a wider range of waste streams, e.g. including waste of electrical and electronic equipment. For other waste fractions, complementary systems can be used e.g. bring systems that target specific waste fractions such as glass.
A typical waste collection strategy implemented by frontrunner waste authorities would include:
- frequent door-to-door separate collection of food waste (e.g. weekly or more often depending on the climate and season);
- less frequent collection of mixed waste (e.g. every two weeks);
- door-to-door collection of recyclables (e.g. paper, cardboard, cans, plastics, glass), individually source separated where public acceptability allows, otherwise co-mingled and sorted at a material recovery facility; glass, followed by paper and cardboard, is more often more effectively collected separately;
- a convenient network of civic amenity sites that accept all waste fractions not collected door-to-door or in street containers from households, including hazardous waste and biowaste (e.g. from gardens)