A new frontline in the battle of the bin collections opened this week as a council in Scotland became the first in the country to start collecting household rubbish only once every four weeks.
Angry residents of the Glenrothes area of Fife complained, however, that they were being punished for the sins of the supermarkets after being told that collectors will be round only once a month to empty the blue bins into which they put general household rubbish – in a bid to encourage recycling. The green bins, for plastic and cans, and brown bins, for food and garden waste, will be emptied once every two weeks.
The issue of how often rubbish should be collected has inflamed residents across the UK ever since Tony Blair’s Labour government abolished a law dating back to Victorian times that obliged councils to empty bins every week. Many authorities moved to fortnightly collections, but in 2012 Community Secretary Eric Pickles bowed to pressure and promised to make weekly collections a “fundamental right”. He set aside £250m for councils who wanted to reintroduce them, but only - Stoke-on-Trent - took up the offer.
In May, Sir Eric lost his job, and the Government appears to have accepted that in parts of the country rubbish will never again be collected weekly.
Fife Council is running two experiments in tandem; in one, general waste is collected monthly for around 2,000 homes. In the other, also affecting about 2,000 homes, it will be collected every three weeks.
But Peter Scobie, chairman of the community council for the Stenton area of Glenrothes, said that council officials were “shot down in flames” when they presented the plan at a community meeting last month, because of the problems residents are already having getting their bins emptied.
“We’ve got no choice of what we buy now,” he said. “The supermarkets are dominant. We can’t buy loose fruit or loose containers. Fife council say they have got the Scottish Government on their backs, and the Scottish government are saying it’s the EU – but nobody is trying to say to the shops, ‘Let’s get rid of the plastic bags’.”
Ken Gourley, head of environment at Fife Council, said: “This is a pilot to get more information so that we can meet the needs of local people, develop a cleaner, greener Fife as well as reduce our waste disposal costs. If we fail to increase recycling rates in Fife, then we are throwing money away.”Reuse content