‘Green light’ for fewer bin collections

Households could be set for fortnightly bin collections, after research shows no adverse health impact.

Ministers have signalled support for alternate weekly rubbish and recycling collections, claiming it would encourage more households to recycle and reduce waste.

Research published today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows pilot schemes experienced no adverse health risks from fortnightly waste collections and common sense measures can prevent any possible increase in odours or insects.

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw welcomed the research, adding schemes appear to work well as long as the public are informed sufficiently in advance of changes.

He said: “Collecting recyclables one week and residual waste the following week has increased the amount of recycling in places where this change has been made.

“Recycling is a vital part of our battle against dangerous climate change – the equivalent of taking three and a half million cars off our roads.”

Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment board, added: “Councils are on the frontline in the fight against climate change and [are] working hard to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“Local authorities are using every tool in their arsenal to make sure that council tax is kept down and the environment is protected. Alternate week collection is one of those tools. It is proven to increase the amount of recycling achieved and reduce the level of waste sent to landfill.”

However, the Conservatives fear this will be a ‘green light’ to councils to abolish weekly rubbish collections.

“Quite justifiably people have difficulty with council taxes rising to nearly double what it was in 1997, but at the same time their local services are being cut,” said shadow local government minister Caroline Spelman.

The public want clean streets and regular rubbish collections, she argued, adding: “Axing weekly collections will hit families the hardest, who quite naturally produce more waste than single person households, or couples without children.”

The Green party warned any changes must be backed by proper investment in recycling, with Britain the worst land-filler in Europe.

The Green’s principal speaker Sian Berry said: “Some councils are cutting bin collections in order to improve recycling but they need to invest in full recycling if they do this.

“The government needs to create industries to process and use the paper and plastics we collect and stop the environmental absurdity of exporting our recycled waste to China.”

Meanwhile, government body Wrap today published research showing the UK throws away nearly a third of all food it buys.