Alternate weekly collection works, claim councils

Local authorities that collect recyclables and non-recyclable waste on alternate weeks have reported significantly higher recycling rates.

According to a study commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) recycling rates increase by over 30% on average when alternate weekly collection is put in place.

Previous investigation by central Government has sought to allay fears about the system, such as its potential to attract vermin or increase the risk of disease as waste must be stored by householders for longer (see related story).

The LGA's study, based on analysis of the most recent recycling rate figures, show that those councils that have opted for alternate weekly collections recycle or compost an average of 30% of the household waste they collect, compared with a figure of 23% for those that do not.

All ten of the councils with the highest recycling rates in the country have adopted alternate weekly collection and eight out of ten of the councils with the biggest improvement since the last set of figures were published also use alternate weekly collection.

According to the LGA's analysis, the council tax payer would save around £22 million a year and waste going to landfill would be cut by 1.2 million tonnes if these recycling rates were replicated across the country.

"Councils are using many different techniques to make sure that as much rubbish is recycled to help the environment and keep council tax down," said Sandy Bruce Lockhart, chairman of the LGA.

"It is up to each council, with their local residents, to decide which sort of approach is used to ensure that local residents help do their bit for the environment and keep council tax as low as possible.

"With landfill taxes set to rise dramatically in the coming five years, there will be more and more pressure on councils to cut the amount of rubbish that gets thrown into landfill. The National Audit Office has estimated that unless landfills rates drop dramatically in the coming years then councils, and the taxpayer will have to pay fines of £200million.

"Councils are listening to local residents and taking action over their concerns about protecting the environment and helping tackle climate change. The move by some to alternate weekly bin collections is aimed at working with residents to reduce waste, increase recycling and slowing rising costs from EU legislation and higher landfill tax.

"There needs to be an urgent and radical overhaul of the way in which rubbish is thrown away. Local people, businesses and councils all have a vital role to play to protect our countryside before it becomes buried in a mountain of rubbish."

Sam Bond



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