Only one council currently providing fortnightly rubbish collections will use government funding to make a full switch to weekly household collections next year - despite communities secretary Eric Pickles’ claim that five local authorities would do so.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Pickles said “only five local authorities have restored weekly collections in full” - Manchester City Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Canterbury City Council, Rochford DC and Great Yarmouth BC.
However, a factcheck by LGC’s sister publication Materials Recycling World revealed only one of those local authorities will fully revert to weekly collections: Stoke-on-Trent, which is receiving more than £14m from Pickles’ fund.
MRW has consistently reported, following two extensive surveys, that Stoke-on-Trent would be the only council bidding to change its refuse collection service from fortnightly to weekly across the whole district.
The other councils that DCLG claimed would make the full switch told MRW their allocation would be used to fund a partial weekly collection for problem areas, such as blocks of flats.
The £250m Weekly Collections Support Scheme has been a pet project of Mr Pickles’ since it was announced last September. At the announcement of the allocation to waste authorities in England he said: “Every Englishman has a basic right to have their household rubbish taken away each and every week - it is the most visible council service people get.”
Initially, local authorities were told they could access the fund only if they pledged to reinstate or retain weekly black bag collection, but so few bids were received that Mr Pickles watered down the criteria for applications to include weekly collections such as food waste.
Manchester denied that its £2.5m would be used to revert to weekly collections - except in small, specific parts of the city that have issues with waste collection includinig high rises and high density housing.
Councillor Nigel Murphy (Lab), Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said that alternate weekly collections for most recycling and black bag waste, with a weekly organic collection including organic and food waste, had resulted in a recycling rate increase of 40% and saved millions of pounds in landfill levies. It is this weekly organic waste collection service that will now be extended to residents in high rise and high density housing.
Murphy said: “We will not do anything to jeopardise our recycling rates. In fact, we want to increase them. That means we will not be reintroducing weekly black bin collections in Manchester - and this money was never about doing so.”
Great Yarmouth is also only partially funding weekly collections with its allocation of around £675,000. Only 7,000 households in the district will be getting weekly waste collections, out of the 46,000 properties that the council services. The reason for this partial switch is that the chosen households are in an area prone to flytipping or the contamination of recyclate.
Canterbury has received just over £1m and a spokesman said it would be used to “provide a weekly collection service for shared houses across our district”, understood to total just 10,000 households.
Finally, Rochford has been given £600,000 to help improve flat waste collection schemes. A spokesman said: “In Year 1 we will use £300,000 for the weekly collection of waste for people who live in flats in the district, while dry recycling will remain fortnightly.”
DCLG did not respond to a request for comment by MRW.