Councils reject refuse calls: poll
Councils are rejecting Government calls to bring back weekly rubbish collections, a survey by the Press Association has revealed.
Local authorities warn attempts to change back from fortnightly to weekly waste collections would dramatically increase costs - and will reverse efforts to increase recycling rates.
Some councils are also taking steps such as introducing charges for bulky waste and picking up garden waste, cutting free collections of fridges and freezers, reducing tip opening hours or revising bin rounds to cope with budget cuts.
The survey comes as Government ministers wrote to councils in England warning against introducing "backdoor bin charging" for rubbish collections which they said would not be legal, would put financial pressure on families and were bad for the environment.
Not one of more than 100 councils which responded to the survey was planning to increase the frequency of refuse collections, although several with fortnightly bin collections are introducing weekly food waste rounds. Instead, 11 were planning to roll out or extend fortnightly waste collections or schemes which pick up rubbish and recycling on alternate weeks.
Ministerial calls to bring in innovative schemes aimed at boosting recycling, for example the "Recyclebank" programme which rewards people with shopping vouchers, are also sparking only limited interest.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles last year ordered the Audit Commission to repeal guidance to local authorities which he said had forced the move to "unpopular and unhygienic" fortnightly rubbish collections. He pledged to work with councils to improve the frequency of rubbish collections, and urged town halls to use incentives to boost recycling rates.
And a waste review by the Environment Department (Defra), due to report later this year, has been looking at - among other things - how Government can work with councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish collections and boost recycling in England.
The survey of councils across the UK revealed that of 117 which responded, more than half (69) had fortnightly collections of rubbish in all or the majority of their area. In England, 55 collected rubbish every two weeks, though 17 of those had weekly services to pick up food waste.
Those that had alternate week rubbish collections said they were not planning to change back because the system boosted recycling rates, was cost-effective and was largely accepted by residents.