Pickles warns of risks of fortnightly rubbish collections


Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has published a guide for local councils, pushing them to reinstate weekly rubbish collections - and outlining how they could do it.

So what is he recommending, and why do councils need this advice?

The guide

The Daily Mail reported that the guide is designed to show councils how to return to weekly collections, while at the same time encouraging recycling and saving money.

At the moment half of all councils only collect rubbish once a fortnight. The government has offered them cash to go back to weekly collections, but is concerned that not enough councils have done so.

Eric Pickles told the Daily Telegraph that the guide: "destroys the lazy left-wing myth that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling." It uses the examples of a number of councils which offer weekly collections, and send 50% of all rubbish to recycling. It also argues against the misconception that fortnightly collections reduce waste - pointing out that some of the lowest waste-generating councils (per head) are those offering weekly collections.

And it highlights the environmental hazards of forcing people to store their rubbish for a fortnight - including the smells, vermin, flies and maggot infestations.

Crazy bin rules

It may seem like a great deal of central government interference in something that local councils have been managing for so long. However, councils have developed some controversial rubbish policies when left to their own devices.

Just a few days ago Southampton Council was considering refusing to collect bins which were too full to close the lid - or rubbish bags left alongside bins.

It emerged in 2011 that councils search through 30,000 bins a year to find out about households and how effectively they are recycling.

A year earlier councils were installing microchips on over 2 million bins - to prepare for the possibility of charging homeowners for the weight of rubbish they threw away.

In that year, more than 1,200 homeowners received fines for breaking rules on putting out rubbish or recycling. The fines were for as much as £110 - which made over-filling your bin worthy of a higher fine than shoplifting.

It makes you think that perhaps local governments need all the guidance on this topic that they can get.