Andy Atkins: Fortnightly rubbish rounds <i>are</i> a good thing

The news that fortnightly collections are here to stay has delighted both green campaigners and cash-strapped councils. Independent research showed that reverting to weekly bin collections would have cost councils – and taxpayers – £530m over four years. It would also have led to a drop of about 5 per cent in England's recycling and an increase in overall waste levels.

Councillor Bryn Morgan of Waverley in Surrey – the self-styled "most Conservative council in the UK" – boasted of the benefits of alternate weekly collections. Their introduction, he claimed, had cut the rubbish sent to landfill by 5,000 tons and the overall quantity collected by 10,000 tons.

As well as saving on disposal costs and carbon emissions, less frequent collections are also helping to cut the rubbish created in the first place as people either reuse more of what they'd previously thrown away, or buy less in the first place. Waste prevention and reuse score even higher than recycling when it comes to their impact on the planet. By saving money on unnecessary extra rubbish collections, councils can invest in the services people really want, including better recycling services that pick up a greater range of materials.

Andy Atkins is executive director of Friends of the Earth

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