CIWM slams Pickles’ ‘bin Bible’

UPDATE - The CIWM has accused Communities Secretary Eric Pickles for chasing headlines over providing a policy framework that supports councils, following the publication of his 'bin Bible' guidance.

Pickles has issued a so-called “bin bible” to try to stop councils from axing weekly rubbish collections today (6 January).

The Communities Secretary said the new guidance for local authorities exposes the false claims made by council “bin barons” to justify scaling back services.

Pickles has made weekly bin collections one of his top priorities for local government. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is sending its guidance to every local authority in England and is a direct challenge to what it describes as the fortnightly bin industry. The guidance states that moving to fortnightly collections is not a “golden ticket to high recycling levels”.  It points to a number of councils with weekly collections – including those in Bournemouth, Bradford and Milton Keynes Council – which all send 50% or more of their household waste for reuse, recycling or composting.  It also contains a list of ten ‘myths’ which the department claims are used to promote fortnightly services.

The details of the guidance were published last week in the national press. Media reports claimed that the DCLG published the guidance during the Christmas period but withdrew it from its website, with a spokeswoman from the department suggesting it was published in error. 

In a press statement issued before the guidance was published today, the CIWM criticised the “entirely improper way” the DCLG published the guidance. 

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “Once again, it would appear that chasing headlines has taken priority over providing a policy framework that supports councils in the difficult decisions that they are currently having to make about local service provision. Both the public and private sector waste industry is already driving hard to achieve efficiency and quality and there is plenty of evidence of innovation in all aspects of waste collection, some of it linked to Mr Pickles’ ‘Weekly Collection Support Scheme’ and plenty that isn’t.”

He added: “Quite aside from the inappropriate timing of the publication on a national holiday and the subsequent withdrawal with no official retraction, this latest development from DCLG gives us cause for concern.

“CIWM welcomes best practice in any area of waste and resource management. However, what we have seen so far with regard to this guidance repeats the provocative language used on a number of occasions by Mr Pickles’ office and is likely to reignite damaging media debate that pits one type of collection scheme against another in an entirely unhelpful way.

“In seeking to undermine the concept of and evidence base for fortnightly or variable frequency collections, it shows little respect for the local decision making process enshrined in the Government’s Localism Act and the significant efforts made by local authorities to provide ’value for money’ collection and recycling services that meet residents’ needs while keeping costs down and delivering maximum environmental benefit.”

Lee concluded that the CIWM “would like the department to commit itself to genuine best practice sharing rather than dogma and confrontation”. 

Liz Gyekye


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