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Recycling and waste guide for developers

Jump to: Recap design guide | Cambridge's refuse and recycling scheme | Houses | Flats | Bin store design | Vehicles and access | Commercial premises

Recap design guide and other information (SPD)

In all cases please read this guide Waste and Recycling Guide: For Developers.

In large developments or where vehicular access is required, Please read this guide. ALSO refer to the RECAP guide for additional information. [See below]

We no longer accept keys or codes for bin stores. The only keys we will accept are standard FB2 or Star keys.

The RECAP (Recycling for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough) Partnership has produced a SPD design guide giving additional information and requirements. It is a particularly useful starting point for large developments or developments where collection vehicles enter a site.

Developers should note that the requirements outlined on this page are specific to Cambridge and may be slightly different or in addition to the requirements outlined in the SPD design guide.

All residential and commercial developments are required under the SPD to complete and submit with supporting plans the 'Design Standards Checklist' from the RECAP Waste Management Design Guide Toolkit. Your application will not be complete without it.

You are also advised to complete and submit the checklist in the Refuse and Recycling Guide – Info for developers with your planning application to assist officers and ensure you have included the specific requirements necessary to help avoid difficulties or delays in the planning process.

Where proposals involve the construction of waste storage compound(s) and/or installation of Bring Site Infrastructure and/or alternative schemes for waste management (underground bins for example), there is a requirement to complete and submit the 'Assessment Criteria' from the RECAP Waste Management Design Guide SPD toolkit.

In addition to the RECAP SPD Design Guide and this guide, we encourage you to consider the recommendations within BS5906:2005.

BS5906 was updated in 2005 to take account of the need to separate waste for the purposes of recycling. In section 4 it sets out general principles of the design of facilities, stating that designers should consider:

  • easy and safe access for waste producers, including older persons or persons with disabilities
  • easy and safe access for collectors and collection vehicles
  • location and space (including avoidance of opportunity to cause nuisance or injury)
  • protection against animal scavenging of waste
  • aesthetics of the development
  • noise (eg glass handling/collection), sound insulation
  • ease of maintenance, including cleaning
  • robust construction
  • safety from fire risk and smoke
  • lighting
  • ventilation
  • special requirements (eg separate storage and collection of healthcare waste and bulky waste)

Cambridge's refuse and recycling scheme

It is important to consider the necessary provision for waste and recycling early on in the planning process. This is a general guide outlining the basic considerations and requirements to achieve suitable storage arrangements and provide a suitable solution operationally after the development is built.

We operate an alternate, fortnightly collection of refuse and recycling. One week refuse is collected and the next week recycling is collected (dry mixed recycling and food and garden waste).

Three streams are collected from houses and flats:

  • a mixed dry-recyclables collection (blue bins)
  • an organic-waste collection which includes food waste (green bins)
  • a residual-waste collection (black bins)

Our waste and recycling provision checklist [PDF, 20Kb] will assist in designing in the necessary requirements. You should seek further information or assistance from your planning officer if the development will have problems meeting any of the requirements.

For large developments please also refer to the RECAP guide SPD design guide

It is vital that adequate space and arrangements for the storage and collection of waste and recycling are considered at the earliest stage. The design must take space requirements and the on-going operational arrangements into account. If you anticipate communal waste storage is required please refer to the section on flats.


Bin types

Each house is required to have three 240-litre wheelie bins:

  • Black bin – for refuse, and non-recyclable items
  • Blue bin – for dry mixed recycling (paper, cans, glass, plastic and cardboard)
  • Green bin – for compostable waste (food and garden waste)

The bins weigh 15.5kg and measure 1,070mm high by 580mm wide by 740mm deep.

Bin storage

Suitable off street storage areas needs to be provided for three wheelie bins. There needs to be access to take the bins to the kerbside on collection days (ie: not taken through the house).

Pulling distances for residents

Storage areas should be conveniently located with easy access for residents:

  • Residents should not have to take their waste and recycling more than 30 metres to a bin storage area,
  • Residents should not have to take their bins more than 25 metres to a collection point, (usually kerbside) in accordance with Building Regulations Approved Document H Guidance.

Pulling distances for collection crews

For houses waste collection is a kerbside service, therefore residents must be able to take their bins to the kerbside for emptying. Bins must be accessible to crews directly from the kerbside, without pulling distances.
 The bin storage areas must not be more than 25m from the kerbside.

Any pathways should take the most direct route possible to the kerbside and avoid the need to pull bins past parked cars or parking bays. Pathways be of smooth, solid surface.


Experience shows that residents who are responsible for their own individual waste containers do more recycling and cause less contamination. Wherever possible, therefore, individual containers for each dwelling are preferred. (See Guide for Houses)

It is also acknowledged, however, that communal provision is sometimes necessary and can be more advantageous where space is at a premium. It is vital that adequate space and arrangements for the storage and collection of waste and recycling are considered at the earliest stage. The design must take space requirements and the on-going operational arrangements into account. If you anticipate communal waste storage is required please refer Guide for flats.


Flats usually require large communal bins for all residents to share. We collect three streams:

  • Black bins – for refuse, and non-recyclable items
  • Blue bins – for dry mixed recycling (paper, cans, glass, plastic and cardboard)
  • Green bins – for compostable waste (food and Garden waste)

Bin dimensions

  • 240-litre bins
    • Height: 1,070mm
    • Width: 580mm
    • Depth: 740mm
    • Weight: Approximately 15.5kg
  • 360-litre bins
    • Height: 1,112mm
    • Width: 585mm
    • Depth: 880mm
    • Weight: Approximately 23kg
  • 660-litre bins
    • Height: 1,213mm
    • Width: 1,260mm
    • Depth: 780mm
    • Weight: Approximately 40kg
  • 1,100-litre bins
    • Height: 1,370mm
    • Width: 1,260mm
    • Depth: 1,075mm
    • Weight: Approximately 50kg

All bins open along the width. This is therefore the front of the bin and it must be positioned with the front edge facing forward, so that the bin can be opened for residents to place the waste and recycling inside.

Separate storage for waste and recycling inside the dwelling should be provided Each container should be 30-40 litres for refuse and dry recycling, and 5+ for food waste.

Capacities per person

  • Refuse (black bins): 50 litres
  • Dry mixed recycling (blue bins): 50 litres
  • Compostable waste (green bins): 20-25 litres

So for example, assuming 1 bed = 2 residents, 2 bed = 4 people:

40 flats with 60 residents would need:

60 (residents) x 50 (litres) = 3000 divided by chosen bin size (ie: 660 litre) = 4.45 bins, rounded up to 5 x 660 bins for refuse and the same for recycling.

60 (residents) x 25 (litres) = 1500 divided by chosen bin size (ie: 660 litres) = 2.27 bins, round down to 2 x 660 bins for compost.

Ordering bins

All bins must be ordered from the council 10 weeks in advance of occupation to ensure they are available for delivery to site prior to residents moving in. Contact 01223 458282. Delivery will be no more than 2 weeks prior to occupation.

Commencement of collection service

Arrangements must be made with the City Council to ensure bins are in place before occupation of any properties (allowing sufficient time for these to be delivered) to enable a collection service to commence and all codes/keys are given to the Council waste department.

Where the site is still under construction – a collection point must be designated and site staff to move the bins to this position on collection days.


  1. Complete checklist with regard to design and access
  2. Calculate capacities and bin sizes
  3. Order bins with the Council
  4. Bins delivered approx 2 weeks before occupation
  5. Any codes/keys/fobs passed to the Council
  6. Add bin store signage

Bin store design


Where bin cupboards are provided, please ensure they have:

  • Enough space to enable each bin to be moved independently, i.e. without moving other bins.
  • Sufficient clearance provided to allow full opening of container lid.
  • 150mm clear space between and around containers.
  • Minimum working headroom of at least 2m (where compound
  • is covered).
  • Protection strips in doorways and on walls to prevent damage.
  • A mechanism for holding doors open (door hooks).
  • Adequate door widths: This is likely to be a minimum of 20cm in addition to the widest bin contained in the bin store.
  • Adequate ventilation - suitable drainage.
  • See page 28 of the RECAP guide for further information.
  • If you require alternative bins/arrangements, or have large scale developments - Please call the Council to discuss.


Keys and fobs should be avoided where possible. Acceptable security is:

  • key pad entry (supply the code to the City Council)
  • Standard FB2 'Fire Brigade' or STAR locks.

Any codes and keys must be given to our Waste department prior to occupation – you must provide us with three sets. FB2 keys do not need to be supplied as the crews already have these.

Bin store signs and leaflets:

Recycling signs for the bin stores, and leaflets can be supplied by the Council. Please contact Emma Will: 01223 458282.

Issues - Excess Cardboard

Experience has shown that when residents first move in, there is an excess of large cardboard - we recommend you supply a skip for this period, or a special extra cardboard collection.

Pathways to collection vehicles:

  • Any pathways should take the most direct route possible to the kerbside
  • Avoid the need to pull bins past parked cars or parking bays.
  • The surface to the collection point should be uninterrupted, level with no gravel or similar covering, no steps.
  • Suitable width to enable the easy passage of wheeled bins. For two-wheeled bins this should be 1 metre for four-wheeled bins this should be 2 metres wide (including doorways)
  • A maximum gradient of 1:12.
  • Drop kerbs should be provided for all developments using 4-wheeled bins
    Residents must not have to walk more than 30m from their flat to the bin store to dispose of their waste/recycling
    Collection crews should not walk more than 10m to collect bins to be emptied.

Pull distances

In large-scale developments, bin storage areas need to be accessible by vehicles - if not, arrangements will need to be made by owners or managing agents for bins to be moved to a point where a collection vehicle and crews can easily gain access and meet the pulling distance requirements.

If bins are to be stored in underground car parks – a managing agent will need to be employed to move the bins to a suitable collection point for the crews to empty the bins.

Please supply Tracking documents with pulling distances at planning stage.

Vehicles and access

Developers need to be aware that the collection vehicles weigh up to 32 tonnes, so without suitable road construction we may be unable to travel on un-adopted highway and would accept no liability for damage. Un-adopted highway, where it is required, should be constructed to an adoptable weight-bearing standard.

Vehicular access in terms of vehicle weight, turning circles, visibility splays, width, etc., needs to be taken into account in the design. Building roads to adoptable standards and submitting them for adoption will ensure they are suitable for large refuse collection vehicles and this is preferred.

Vehicles should be able to enter and exit a site in forwards motion and any reversing manoeuvres should be kept to a minimum and not more than 12m. It is important that the Highways Authority is happy with the proposed access into and out of a site onto the highway regardless of whether they adopt any new road.

  • Highways should have a minimum width of 5m
  • Vehicles should be able to enter and exit a site in forwards motion
  • Not require vehicles to reverse more than 12m.
  • Be constructed in accordance with relevant guidance (refer to RECAP design guide) to allow for up to a 32 tonne vehicle.
  • Allow at least 4m vertical clearance. In addition a minimum of 3.5m width and 4m in length should be allowed where the emptying of containers takes place. Sufficient overhead clearance should also be provided to allow for operation.

It is important that the Highways Authority is happy with the proposed access into and out of a site onto the highway regardless of whether they adopt any new road.

Vehicle maximum dimensions

  • Width: 2,500mm (without mirrors) 3,000mm (with mirrors)
  • Height: 3,600mm (with hazard beacons)
  • Turning circle: 22,800 meters
  • Overall length: 12,300mm (from front to rear of bin lift)

All roadways should be constructed to facilitate waste collections prior to occupation. This is particularly important to consider when waste collections occur from the rear of properties or from a different street from the main entrance to the properties.

Please supply tracking documents with pulling distances at planning stage. Please contact us to confirm vehicle type. There is more about this on p31 of the Recap design guide.

Commercial premises

A minimum of two streams of waste collection are required for commercial developments, this is to satisfy National pre-treatment regulations. Collections can either be provided by the Council or by a private company.

Waste collections must be suitable for the business type proposed and consideration should be given to the types of landfill diversion available. I.e. it may be appropriate for restaurants to have food waste collections as well as recycling collections.

The space for waste storage should be sufficient to store a minimum of two days of waste generated by the business.

Refer to the RECAP Design Guide for more information.