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Bin policy ‘to stay a local decision’

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Ministers are set to announce incentives for councils to revert to weekly food waste collections but will stop short of trying to force them to do so, LGC understands.

A Local Government Association briefing note on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ waste review said the government was expected to commit itself to a localist approach to waste.

However, the paper said the review “may ‘lean’ on councils to introduce weekly food waste collections, without mandating them in a way which would require the government to provide additional funding under the new burden arrangements”.

LGC understands that this is likely to mean incentives through the local government finance system.

About half of England’s councils empty bins on a fortnightly basis and the government has no power to force councils to adopt weekly bin collections.

But communities secretary Eric Pickles has been outspoken in his opposition to fortnightly bin collections - which he has described as “barmy” - and, despite his avowed localism, has pledged to “kill off” the policy.

In January, local government minister Bob Neill claimed the government would publish new guidance setting out how councils could shift from alternate week bin collections.

However, this was denied by Defra, which holds ultimate responsibility for waste policy in Whitehall. Defra has maintained that it is up to councils to decide how frequently to collect their bins.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think this article misses the point - or doesn't make entirely clear - that a compromise deal has been reached (I haven't yet seen the briefing note so I may be wrong).

    If things are panning out as hoped / expected, local authorities will be encouraged to collect food waste for recycling on a weekly basis but will not be under pressure to change refuse collection frequencies.

    This approach allows authorities to take (or keep) the savings from reduced frequency refuse collections and creates pressure (or a possible incentive!) to run improved recycling collection services.

    People may complain that localism should mean NO pressure, but the crux of this deal is that the pressure from central government will now run with the grain of local government finances and priorities. Separate food waste collection improves resident service satisfaction, improves recycling rates and reduces landfill tax and other refuse disposal and treatment costs.

    If the agreement is as I hope, then common-sense has prevailed.... Fingers crossed!

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