Headlines: April 24th, 2007



The leader of the Local Government Agency has stressed his support for councils that have ended weekly household waste collections and moved to fortnightly bin emptying. Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said local authorities were under financial and legal pressure to cut the amount of rubbish being sent to landfill.

He was speaking after renewed controversy over the frequency of refuse collections with new figures showing about 40 per cent of English households now have their non-recyclable rubbish collected fortnightly rather than weekly. In Wales, meanwhile, more than half of councils have either switched to alternate week collections or are planning to do so. Critics of the switch have claimed it has led to rats and vermin being attracted to uncollected rubbish and that fortnightly collection is unhygienic. To counter that, a recent government study found no evidence that alternate week refuse collection was any more harmful to health than weekly collections, as long as householders used their bins correctly.

Lord Bruce-Lockhart said that councils were under enormous financial and legal pressure over the use of landfill and to increase recycling. Moving to alternate week collections, with recyclable material being picked up in one week and rubbish the next, was an effective way to meet those pressures. “Unless bold reforms are made by everybody in the country, recycling rates will not rise fast enough to meet the EU landfill directive and hit the pockets of taxpayers,” he said and added, “Councils, and consequently local people, are facing fines of up to 150 pounds for every tonne of rubbish over the set limit that is sent to be dumped into landfill sites.”

He said those residents who failed to separate recyclable material from their rubbish were making it more difficult to reach those goals because the slightest amount of contamination resulted in recyclable waste being sent to landfill.

A recent survey found that so far more than a dozen authorities have used new powers to impose fines on people who either left out their rubbish at the wrong time or who mixed recyclable and non-recyclable waste, but LGA environment board chairman Paul Bettison said fines should be used only as last resort.