Monthly bin collections begin in England and Wales but residents forced to burn rubbish because of the smell
The first monthly bin collections in England and Wales have been introduced, but residents say they have been forced to burn their rubbish because of the smell.
The four-weekly collection began in the county of Conwy, North Wales, on Monday following a year-long trial across 11,000 households.
It is the first area in England and Wales to make the move, although it is being trialled in other areas, while at least 18 councils operate three-weekly rubbish collections.
In Scotland, two councils – Fife and Falkirk – already have monthly collections in place, whole in Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council is considering the option.
But residents in Conwy are angry about the scheme, saying collections every four weeks have attracted rats, seagulls and flies as the rubbish has extra time to rot in what was a particularly hot summer.
In addition, some residents say they have resorted to burning their rubbish because it has piled up so much. They have been forced to buy incinerators because of the waste build-up.
Others have complained the extended collection gap has led to an increase in fly-tipping.
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One resident told the BBC: "It's the length of time that's the problem, not the quantity.
"It festers. It's as simple as that. The whole area is plagued with flies now in the summer.
"We've bought an incinerator so we burn the majority of the rubbish, which is not good for the environment."
Another said: "I think it's dreadful. They should be emptied regularly.
"It's more than full after two weeks and I burn some of it. You're not supposed to do that, but you have to otherwise the bin is absolutely bursting.
"It is more manageable at three weeks, but I think four weeks is a step too far, especially for families."
The UK is under pressure to reduce the amount of rubbish it produces each year – EU targets state that Britain must recycle at least half of all household waste by 2020, and is currently at 43%.
Conwy Council claims the move will save almost £400,000 a year.
In a statement, it said: "We currently recycle 64% of our waste, which is really good, but we need to recycle 70% by 2024/25 to meet the Welsh government's targets. If these targets are not achieved the council may be fined."
The council said its trial of monthly collections led to a 14% increase in recycling and a 31% drop in the amount of waste left in wheelie bins.
According to waste charity Wrap, monthly and three-weekly bin collections did not exist until 2014/15, when two councils introduced the system.
There were 245 councils that operated weekly bin collections in 2009/10, which has fallen by 34% in eight years to 160.
In the same period, the number of fortnightly collections went up by 38% from 219 councils to 303.