Posted: Fri 5th Apr 2019

People of Wrexham helping council surpass recycling target but ‘more needs to be done’ for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 5th, 2019

Councillors will receive an update next week on new initiatives and progress with recycling rates locally, with the recent controversy over bin stickers being presented to members.

A report published ahead of next Wednesday’s homes and environment scrutiny committee explains that following a review of waste and recycling collections service in 2016, Wrexham Council has been successful in establishing itself as one of the best performing Council’s in Wales in terms of recycling.

Back in 2002/2003 recycling rates locally were just three per cent. However in recent years the local authority has increased the ways in which residents can recycle, with homes across Wrexham receiving either new black bottle boxes, food caddies and wheelie boxes.

Back in October 2018 reported that recycling rates in Wrexham had dropped down from 68 per cent to 65.4 per cent for 2017/18 – a theme that was was mirrored by other authorities across Wales.

In next week’s report it is noted that whilst the local authority is already surpassing the statutory target of 64 per cent, ‘more needs to be done’ to hit the Welsh Government target of 70 per cent by 2025.

Recent drives to improve recycling levels includes new stickers which were placed on black bins across the county borough in February asking people to use their food caddies / recycling boxes.

The ironically non-recyclable stickers received a mixed response from members of the public, something which is highlighted during a presentation document associated with next week’s report. The presentation notes the bin stickers just a couple of slides after it asks ‘What are Wrexham doing to reduce single-use plastics?’.

The presentation states thats 60,000 stickers were stuck onto bins and that the council had received criticism for the design of stickers, the hostile/highly threatening tone and claims that it was patronising to keen recyclers. There was also criticism from some members of the public who had never been issued with a recycling caddie.

However since the stickers have been used Wrexham Council say there has been an increase of people contacting them about food caddies – with 316 requests in February alone.

It is also noted that the collection tonnages have also increased by between 10 – 20 tonnes of food waste per month compared to collection figures for last year.

Social media stats are also presented to the committee as that is presented as a communication tool, as well as driving direct email sign ups for further recycling information. The report notes: “As in 2018, Twitter continues to have a greater reach than Facebook for us.

“Since the beginning of March, we’ve been putting out a recycling fact each day on social media, and on Twitter these typically reach between 19-24,000 people per post, whereas on Facebook the reach is between 2-8,000 people per post.”

Delving deeper it appears the stats are generated off the Orlo platform Wrexham Council uses to run their various social media accounts. Rather than using the raw Facebook and Twitter analytics, the Orlo data is being provided as ‘reach’.

The above tweet is given as an example, with the 23,200 figure highlighted alongside analysis of ‘reach’. Knowing our own figures that Twitter provide, we looked further at the possible methodology behind those numbers for that specific tweet. Wrexham Council’s twitter account published it, which has 20,000 followers – it was then retweeted by four other accounts @WrexhamTravel 741 followers, @WrexhamEvents 1917 followers, @LaunchWrexham 327 followers and possibly the only non-council account , Cllr Bill Baldwin’s @77bew account with 287 followers. The total of all those followers is 23,272 – near enough bang on the 23.2k figure given by Orlo.

Such raw figures are effectively nonsense, as 100% of all followers are looking at a twitter account 100% of the time, and due to the transient nature of twitter a tweet can sometimes disappear off a screen within seconds, especially if at ‘peak’ times such as 8am. Such numbers also assume all followers are real people, not dormant or even entities or individuals that have ceased to exist.

Similar Orlo based data is provided to councillors as an example of Facebook reach, with that social network also providing its own post-by-post analytic tools – and allowing third party insight.

Basic Facebook stats are provided with a sample of comments along with the number, and emojis and likes counted – with it noted one post had “13 likes, 12 angry emoji’s and 9 laughing emoji’s, showing the varying opinions around this topic”. Below is an example of raw stats that Facebook produce, similar to Twitter’s output.

More specific digital stats are given, with the report noting “There are 11,866 subscribers to the Bin Collection Reminders weekly e-mail service and 6,743 subscribers to the Recycling Tips and Info e-mail bulletins. The “Check your bin day” online form is the most popular on-line form on the Council website. Since it was launched in December 2018 it has had 4,869 users.” The email service remains the main traffic driver to the council’s news site on related articles with nearly 70% of clicks coming via that method.

Also up for debate at next week’s meeting is an update on the council’s Street Scene following a review of how the service operates back in 2016.

The report highlights work carried out with the team to improve recycling and refuse collections, including in-cab technology which has been introduced within each of the refuse and recycling vehicles. The system provides improved information to the crews and facilitates direct communication with the Contact Centre.

One popular gripe that is aired on social media is missed bin collections, which the report has tabled into trade / caddy / recycle box / assisted and domestic stats on a month by month basis. The totals are regularly several hundred missed collections per month.

The above graph shows the per-month missed collection data, which sounds bad, however in the context of overall collections which is stated at around 500,000 a month the figures are incredibly tiny – detailed in the report as roughly 0.001% of collections deemed ‘missed’.

Regardless of the tiny figures, the report notes “Any missed collections are service failures and the department takes this seriously. Our average rate of failure over the last 6 months is less than 2 missed collections for every 1,000 visits.”

The report adds: “To put these figures into context it is important to note that the refuse and recycling service does approximately 0.5 million individual visits to properties each and every month of the year.

Earlier today reported that Wrexham Council have also unveiled plans to reduce single-use plastics within the local authority – including replacing cutlery and cups in schools and meetings with cardboard / wooden replacements.

The report will be considered by members of the homes and environment scrutiny committee on Wednesday 10th April at 2pm. The meeting is open to the public and can also be viewed from the comfort of your own home via the council’s webcasting system.

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