Innovation Exchange

Introduction of 140 Litre Bins


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

In order to achieve increases in recycling rates the associated carbon reductions and financial benefits in reduced disposal costs, the council had to act to drive recyclable materials out of the grey bin and into the appropriate recycling streams.

The plan to help to instigate the required mass behaviour change was the introduction of a standardised 140l grey wheeled bin for landfill material and removing all of the existing 240l and 360l containers.


The project was developed following extensive research and benchmarking with the performance data and experiences of other authorities who had implemented similar service changes and their lessons learnt.


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  • Diversion from landfill of around 20%
  • Increased overall recycling rate by around 9%
  • Financial Savings of £238,000 in revenue expenditure
  • Employment Opportunities through new recycling collection crews
  • Delivering the service change whilst maximising community buy-in

The Project completed its roll out in December 2016, having started in 8 months earlier in May 2016, to introduce the service to around 96% of households in West Lothian.


To date analysis has shown that the levels of diversion from Phases 1 to 5 have delivered levels of diversion, from the grey bin, in excess of 20%. This level would, when matched with the commensurate diversion into recycling streams, deliver a full year effect of increasing the recycling rate by around 9% in the 2017 calendar year. The diversion of this volume of material and the current market conditions with respect to disposal and processing costs will see the savings target of £238,000 met.


With respect to employment a total of 21 permanent posts have been created through the recruitment of an additional 4 Food Waste crews and the conversion of the Brown Bin service from a seasonal to an all year round service.


The service change has met with general acceptance by the public and has clearly had a positive impact with respect to disposal habits and engagement in the process of separating materials within the household. The uptake of food waste and blue bin recycling in households where participation was previously low or zero has been marked. Orders for new recycling containers have doubled across the council area, which represents and unprecedented level of uptake in comparison with the other authorities benchmarked.


This project marks a clear direction change in recycling and waste management where personal social responsibility is embedded into the planning and delivery of a service with clear and transparent links to the social, environmental and financial impacts of engagement. In delivering this project for the residents of West Lothian, the project team did just that, to the benefit of all.

The process of rolling out the containers built on the lessons learnt during the roll out of Food Waste in 2013 and 2015 as well as extensive reviews of other authority service changes relating to the landfill bin capacity.


These were:

  • Benchmarking at Officer level, including visits to determine the actual effects of the planned change in other areas, not relying on press release info
  • Development of a clear implementation plan which remains live throughout the project
  • Utilising a dedicated in house project team
  • Early communication with the CSC and Corporate Comms on plans
  • Regular (at least monthly) meeting with the CSC during roll out
  • Using Frontline Crews to deliver information/containers and to sense check all modelled data


From the 140l Roll out in particular the following lessons learnt are applicable:


  • Bring in the In-House team earlier in the process to ensure adequate time prior to project start due to the recruitment timescales
  • Ensure a facility is available and ready for the storage of large volumes of containers well in advance of roll out to ensure no concerns with stock availability arise
  • Ensure there is access to a call off resource to deal with unprecedented demand for orders and requests if required. This could either be part of the contract for delivery or via an agency framework, as resource cannot be taken out of the frontline teams who are already delivering the project.


Theme: Service Transformation

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


David Goodenough

Recycling and Waste Services Manager

West Lothian Council

01506 777607

Case study added to site: March 2017

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