Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

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Waste Management

Bedford Borough Council took over responsibility for the collection and disposal of waste in April 2009 when it became a unitary authority as a result of Local Government Reorganisation. Prior to this Bedford Borough Council was part of the Bedfordshire Authorities Waste Partnership (BAWP) which produced its first Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy in 2001. This strategy was refreshed in line with new legislation in April 2006.

Please click here to view the Bedfordshire Authorities Municipal Waste Management Strategy


Following the abolition of BAWP in April 2009, Bedford Borough Council has undertaken to produce its own waste management strategy under the Waste and Emission Trading (WET) Act 2003. The strategy is to:

  • Reduce total waste arising, maximise reuse and recycling
  • Reduce reliance on landfill in line with European and UK legislation
  • Increase public awareness of waste issues
  • Achieve best value in all aspects of waste management, and
  • Manage waste in a way that takes account of Bedford Borough Sustainable Community Strategy 7 Strategic priorities


Other key considerations are the Waste Strategy for England and Wales 2007, the Waste Review 2012 and the waste hierarchy all of which provide a strategic framework to promote sustainable waste management.



Current Waste Performance

Last year Bedford Borough residents recycled 44.45% of their household waste.  The borough council collected 11,150 tonnes of recycling from households and 11,456 tonnes of green waste.  The residual waste collected from households totalled 34,854 tonnes last year, with some going to landfill and some to a mechanical biological treatment plant to be processed.

A breakdown of Bedford Borough Council’s waste performance can be downloaded using the link below:


Waste Performance Datasheet


Our Waste Composition

To develop and deliver an effective waste management service it is important to understand how waste is being managed. Bedford Borough commissioned waste compositional studies in January and November 2009 to get an in-depth understanding of kerbside refuse and dry recycling composition.   To download information on the Borough’s waste composition use the link below:

Waste composition datasheet


The studies show that not all of the recyclable items available are being captured through the kerbside recycling schemes, some recyclables are still being thrown away in the rubbish bin. The following table shows the total capture rate (a measure of how much of the “available” recyclables we are actually collecting) for each material.


Materials Capture Rate
Newspaper and catalogues 58.27%
Household paper 58.27%
Card (flat and corrugated) 34.72%
Ferrous cans and packaging 30.22%
Aluminium cans and packaging 17.07%
Plastic bottles 16.91%
Aerosoles 1.63%
Dense plastic 16.91%
Plastic films 3.71%
Compostable paper 5.88%
Textiles 1.56%


It is estimated that if the capture of household paper, plastic bottles and cans increased to 100% this would divert an extra 8,000 tonnes of materials away from landfill, and save up to £0.5 million in landfill disposal costs in addition to helping the authority achieve a recycling rate of over 50%.  


Landfilling waste is not considered to be a sustainable option for the future, due to both environmental and financial factors. Waste buried in landfills produces harmful gases, which are a major factor in global warming. Landfill is also an expensive means of waste disposal, with landfill tax charged on every tonne. The landfill tax paid on each tonne disposed of in landfill is currently at £86.10 (2017/18) and is set to rise each year. In addition, the Borough Council must meet strict European Union targets for the diversion of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW). Failure to do so may result in heavy financial penalties.



Current Waste Management Contracts

Recyclable materials collected in the orange lidded bin and orange sacks are collected every two weeks and taken to the Borough Council’s Waste Transfer Station and Material Recycling Facility (WTS/MRF) at Elstow in Bedford. Some of the recyclable materials are processed here while the remainder is bulked up and sent for further processing to a Materials Recycling Facility at Milton Keynes.


The Elstow site also receives rubbish that is collected fortnightly from the kerbside in black bins. Most rubbish is bulked up and sent to an MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) facility in North London. Some rubbish that is not suitable for this process is taken to a landfill site in Bletchley.


The green garden waste collected from the kerbside and at the Householders Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) at Barkers Lane is taken directly to a site at Ravensden near Bedford for open windrow composting. The product produced is PAS 100 certified and is used as good quality soil improver/ compost.

Further information on all of the processes mentioned above is available at: Where does my waste go?


The Borough Council currently has one Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) located at Barkers Lane, which accepts a wide range of materials for recycling along with excess residual waste from Borough households free of charge. For more information visit the Waste Recycling Centre Page.


A list of current waste contracts can be downloaded using the link below:

Waste Contracts Datasheet


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