A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) fund of £5m has been made available to incentivise householders to recycle more, local government secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced. The fund, however, is only available to councils that collect general refuse weekly.
In his latest attempt to persuade councils to reinstate weekly bin collections, communities secretary Eric Pickles has made £5m available for councils that a offer weekly refuse collections, aimed at incentivising householders to recycle more.
At a time when half of councils collect refuse fortnightly, and more and more are considering moving further away to three or even four weekly collections of refuse, Eric Pickles has said that people should be “rewarded” for recycling more.
But only if their council offers a weekly refuse collection.
Pickles highlighted a series of successful pilot schemes where councils weigh household recycling and reward them with vouchers worth up to £135 a year.
“Councils with fortnightly collections will not receive government funding and are short-changing their residents with an inferior service”
He said: “It is a myth that fortnightly bin collections or unfair bin fines are needed to increase recycling. Rewards for recycling show how working with families can deliver environmental benefits without the draconian approach of punishing people and leaving out smelly rubbish.
“This Government is protecting the local environment by supporting recycling, as well as championing weekly collections which protect local amenity and public health. Councils with fortnightly collections will not receive government funding and are short-changing their residents with an inferior service.”
Pickles recently said that one option being considered by the Conservatives is the introduction of a minimum service standard, which would reinstate the previous legal requirement for councils to collect rubbish weekly.
Despite a range environmental groups stating that fortnightly collections produce more recycling, Pickles has fought hard in his efforts to persuade councils to revert to weekly collections.
Among his efforts to “bring back” the weekly waste collection, Pickles implemented funding from the DCLG that councils could use to upgrade their waste services – including a return to weekly collections.
In August last year Pickles issued guidance for councils to tackle “the daily obstacle course” of wheelie bins and recycling boxes” in streets.
More recently Pickles and his team at the DCLG published the so-called “Bin Bible”, which was aimed at destroying “the lazy left-wing myth that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling”.
Eric Pickles will be making a keynote speech at this year’s RWM with CIWM. Register here
“Any additional money to support local government waste collection services is welcome,” said CIWM CEO, Steve Lee, “particularly at a time when budgets are tight and England’s recycling rate is showing signs of stalling.
“We do need to explore the best ways to reinforce people’s enthusiasm for recycling and incentive schemes clearly have a role to play. However, recent research suggests that the impact can be difficult to measure and potentially limited and that the introduction and running of these schemes can involve additional costs for councils that may not be offset by increased recycling.
“This fund could certainly help with the upfront investment needed, but councils also have to consider the year-on-year operational costs of incentives schemes and decide if this is the right move for their local circumstances.
“More importantly, government money should not be used to force councils into changing the frequency of their residual waste collection services. Those that need to operate weekly residual collections to meet particular local circumstances, for example high density urban areas, do so and they will rightly welcome additional support to incentivise recycling.
“However, most of England’s top performing councils have been running alternate week collections for a number of years with good resident satisfaction ratings and significant improvements in recycling and landfill diversion.
“Publicly vilifying these councils and jeopardising the householder participation and recycling rates they have achieved is inappropriate, especially when viewed against the backdrop of ongoing local government budget cuts and growing concern that the UK may fail to meet the EU 50 percent recycling target in 2020.”