Battle of the bins: Defra stats show fortnightly refuse collections INCREASES recycling

 

The battle of the bins has broken out again after analysis of Government figures showed that collecting refuse fortnightly - a policy considered by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, to be rubbish – increases recycling.

Analysis of official figures from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that in the past two years nine of the 10 councils with the biggest improvements in recycling pick up non-recyclable waste fortnightly.

Responding to the figures, councils said that residents had coped easily with binmen visiting every two weeks - while Friends of the Earth likened those demanding weekly visits to climate-change deniers.

However the Department for Communities and Local Government, whose Secretary of State, Mr Pickles, has described weekly collections as a “basic right”, stuck to its policy. Reducing the frequency of collections, it said, was “lazy and unnecessary”.

Mr Pickles has threatened to “look closely” at the funding of local authorities which refuse restore weekly rounds.

At present around half of councils collect ordinary refuse fortnightly, with many of those collecting recycling and or food waste in the alternate weeks.

Some households are vigorously opposed to fortnightly collections, deeming them to be unhygienic and inconvenient and after coming to power two years ago, Mr Pickles intended to force all councils in England to restore them. However he scrapped the idea last June after a review found it would be too expensive.

Instead, in November he set up a £250m fund to incentivise the councils to fall into line, saying: “Weekly bin collections are one of the most visible frontline services and there is no plausible reason why councils shouldn't deliver them to hard-working residents.”

He added. “We have demolished the Labour myth that fortnightly bin collections were necessary to save money or increase recycling.”

The latest figures, for England in 2010/11 and 2011/12, show that the most improved council, Runnymede Borough Council in Surrey, almost doubled its recycling of total waste, from 29 per cent to 47 per cent, after moving to fortnightly collections.

Cheltenham Borough Council similarly boosted its recycling by a third from under 35 per cent to 46 per cent. Roger Whyborn, its cabinet member for sustainability, said: ”The increase in recycling is undoubtedly because from April 2011… introducing weekly food waste, combined with only collecting residual waste fortnightly, caused a major step change in people's recycling habits.“

An analysis of figures by the government's waste quango, Wrap, two years ago estimated that reintroducing weekly collections across all 170 local authorities in England would lower recycling and cost taxpayers £530m.

Responding to the latest figures, Julian Kirby, waste and resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s obvious that fortnightly collections boost recycling and save councils money. The sad thing about this is that it’s like having to argue about people causing climate change.”

He called for fortnightly collections of non-recyclable rubbish and weekly collections of food waste.

Rejecting that, the Communities Minister, Brandon Lewis, said: “Research shows that residents overwhelmingly prefer a regular and frequent rubbish collection, but under the previous administration the numbers of weekly services across the country halved while council tax doubled.

“Cutting the frequency of collections is a lazy and unnecessary move. It is possible to increase recycling and still have comprehensive weekly service, through better procurement, more joint working and using incentive schemes.”

Labour’s show environment minister Tom Harris said that as well as fighting Defra, Mr Pickles was undermining the Conservatives’ localism agenda. “Ultimately this is a decision for local authorities rather than central government,” he said.

Defra declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks