Government U-turn on weekly bin collections

Government set to ditch pledge to restore weekly rubbish collections

Updated: 
garbage bags

The Conservative promise to bring back weekly bin collections has been quietly dropped. After campaigning in opposition for your 'fundamental right' to a stench-free front garden, and being vocal throughout their years in coalition on the duty of councils to deliver a basic right, they are ready to throw in the towel.

The promise to bring back weekly collections was a favourite hobby horse of former minister Eric Pickles, who famously insisted that we ought to be able to chuck way the remains of a takeaway curry without being forced to inhale the odour of its rotting remains a fortnight later. Pickles was so keen to ensure the return of weekly rounds that the government offered £250 million to councils to support weekly collections.

However, of the councils that applied for this funding, only a third wanted to use it to continue weekly collection. Instead, the vast majority wanted to invest in recycling services. Only one council applied for the cash to restore a weekly collection, but it changed its mind and withdrew the bid.

Now, a government source has told the Daily Mail that initiatives aimed at restoring collections are highly unlikely to continue after the autumn spending review. We can therefore expect councils to continue the march towards fortnightly collections. At the moment only 6% of councils run weekly services, and it's not known how long the last remaining councils will be able to cling on for.

Meanwhile, as we reported last year, there has been speculation that council cuts will encourage more authorities to consider less frequent collections. Bury and Gwynedd in Wales have introduced three-weekly collections, while monthly collections have been trailed in Banbridge in County Down and discussed in Cardiff.

Is this right?

The idea behind less frequent wheelie bin collections is three-fold. First, it means councils can devote more collections to picking up recycling by the roadside. Given that the EU wants us to be recycling 50% of our waste by 2020, the councils are trying to make it easier to recycle. Frequent collections may persuade us that it's not too hard to keep recycling separate from the rest of the rubbish.

Second, it hopes that by taking the rubbish away less frequently, it will make us think twice about throwing things away. The idea is that when he's forced to live with a stinking and overflowing bin, instead of putting the remains of the takeaway in the bin, Eric Pickles will put food in with the food waste, and wash the rest to recycle as cardboard or metal. Maidstone council claims that this technique alone reduces waste by 25%.

And finally, in the current climate, there's the question of cost. There's less to send to landfill - so the council faces a smaller rubbish disposal bill.

You can see why councils are fans of the idea. You can also see why some taxpayers are unhappy, given that they are facing endless cuts in council services, and yet their council tax bill remains as punishing as ever.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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