Mayor hits out at alternate weekly collections

London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has once again expressed concerns about alternate weekly waste collections - and pointed out that many Parliamentarians share his fears.

Advocates of alternate weekly collection (AWC), which sees recyclable household waste collected one week and non-recyclable waste collected the next, say that it increases recycling rates as householders are encouraged to pay more attention to sorting their waste.

But opponents claim that there is a cost-cutting incentive and compelling householders to store their waste for up to two weeks could encourage vermin and pose other health risks.

This week Mr Livingstone also argued that figures showing less waste is going to landfill in those areas where AWC is in operation are misleading.

The Mayor believes that Defra statistics which suggest less rubbish is being dumped in landfill sites are not telling the whole story and that the landfill allowance trading scheme is being sidestepped by some local authorities.

As a result municipal waste is continuing to be sent to landfill sites in the home counties through the private commercial waste sector.

His concerns are shared by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee which acts to scrutinise Government policy.

“Like the Committee I am not persuaded by the case for alternate weekly collections,” said the Mayor.

“I remain concerned about how this would improve recycling in London, particularly in the high-rise high density buildings in some London boroughs and do not think the effects on environmental hygiene and the rodent population have been fully considered.

“I also remain concerned that more of London’s rubbish is being dumped in landfill sites than is accounted for by the boroughs and the government continues to allow this to happen.

“My officers first raised the potential for this to happen with the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs in 2003, shockingly four years on this problem has not been addressed.

“As a major world city we need to manage our waste in a sustainable way. Why encourage ordinary Londoners to recycle their rubbish if the Government is simply going to turn a blind eye to businesses dumping their rubbish in landfill sites. It is significant that this problem has been recognised by the Communities and Local Government Committee and I will continue to pursue my concerns about this with the European Commission.”

Sam Bond

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