Government's waste review stops short of ordering weekly bin collections

14 Jun 11
Councils in England will not be forced to carry out weekly bin collections as previously indicated by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, it was announced today.

By Lucy Phillips | 14 June 2011

Councils in England will not be forced to carry out weekly bin collections as previously indicated by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, it was announced today.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today published its WastePolicy Review, a blueprint for a ‘zero waste economy’. Its plans include: offering recycling incentives for households, businesses and people on the move; scrapping bin fines and extra taxes; and introducing powers to crack down on persistent fly tippers.

But the review does not instruct councils on frequency of waste collections, despite Pickles’ promise to reinstate weekly pickups in around half of the councils that currently carry them out fortnightly. Neither is any extra cash for town halls to increase the collections, as was also previously suggested.

The review says: ‘The government will be working with local councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish collections and make it easier to recycle, and to tackle measures which encourage councils specifically to cut the scope of collections. Waste services are a matter for local authorities to develop fit-or-purpose local solutions.

‘However, the government believes that better procurement and joint working can improve the efficiency of collections while improving the frontline service for the public in an affordable and practical manner. The government understands that the public have a reasonable expectation that household waste collections services should be weekly, particularly for smelly waste.’

The review, launched 12 months ago, notes that the government has removed Audit Commission guidance that marked down councils that did not adopt fortnightly rubbish collections. Local Area Agreements that created ‘perverse’ incentives to downgrade waste collection services have also been abolished.

Pickles said: ‘It’s time to consign the failed policies of unfair bin taxes, bin fines and bin cuts to the dustbin of history.  Families pay £120 a month in council tax. Both Whitehall and the town hall need to raise their game to deliver more frequent and better rubbish and recycling collections in return.’

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman added: ‘For too long, we’ve lagged behind the rest of Europe, although we are catching up fast. Communities and businesses can help us become a first-class zero-waste economy and unlock the real value in the goods that people no longer want.’

Gary Porter, chair of the Local Government Association’s environment board, said councils would work with Defra to find ways of reducing the impact of waste.
He went on: ‘Allowing councils to identify and work with people who misunderstand or make mistakes when sorting their rubbish is important. As a last resort councils also need effective, proportionate powers to take action against households or businesses which persistently or wilfully damage the local environment. We will work with Defra to ensure that adequate deterrents are available to tackle the small number of people who undermine the good work of the rest of us.’


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