Alternate weekly waste collection not right for London – Mayor

London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has hit out at the growing faith in alternate weekly collection as a way to increase recycling rates, saying its popularity has more to do with saving cash than effective waste management.

Alternate weekly collection, where recyclable waste is collected one week and non-recyclable the next, has seen backing from central Government and from local authorities.

Last week the Local Government Association (LGA) claimed that according to its analysis recycling rates had increased by a third, up from an average of 23% to 30%, in districts and boroughs which had introduced this form of waste management (see related story).

Earlier, Government had sought to put minds at rest by publishing data suggesting that there was no increased health or vermin risk for householders who had to store their rubbish for an extra week between collection.

Despite this the Mayor of London said that research had not been done in the capital and what worked for rural areas might not work for cities.

“Harrow Council is the only council to date in London to have introduced alternate weekly collections,” said Mr Livingstone.

“I am concerned that other boroughs will soon follow Harrow’s lead, despite the fact no research has been done as to its success in London.

“I am not convinced that the research carried out in rural areas applies to the high rise, high-density buildings in some London boroughs. Some Harrow Councillors have raised concerns with my office that this policy has led to confusion with the public as to which days they could recycle.

“My suspicion is that alternate weekly collections are more about cutting costs than improving recycling rates. I am concerned that the boroughs are not looking for easier ways to increase recycling in the capital,” he added.

“It is clear that the boroughs are introducing this without understanding the effects on environmental hygiene and the rodent population and the real test will come as we experience a long hot summer.”

Sam Bond

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