Suffolk: Waste bosses refuse to reintroduce weekly bin collections over fears recycling rates would drop

Rubbish collections

Rubbish collections - Credit: Archant

Householders in Suffolk will miss out on a share of a multi-million pound recycling windfall – including shopping vouchers and loyalty rewards – after waste bosses said there were “no plans” to go back to weekly collections.

The government has set up a £5million fund designed to boost recycling rates, but it will only be available to councils which collect rubbish every week.

The Suffolk Waste Partnership, which leads the county’s waste management, last night said its fortnightly scheme – which sees non recyclable and recyclable rubbish collected on alternate weeks – had been “highly successful” with recycling rates of more than 50%.

Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, has said it was a “myth” that fortnightly collections were needed to increase recycling.

The aim of the new fund is to encourage councils to increase their recycling rates by giving incentives – such as shopping vouchers and loyalty rewards – to households who recycle.

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The new fund will only be open to councils offering weekly collections, with ministers making it clear that those offering only fortnightly collections will lose out.

Andrew Nunn, chairman of the Suffolk Waste Partnership, said speaking generally about its fortnightly collections: “The eight councils of Suffolk signed a Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy in 2003. At that time, the strategy contained 17 policies designed to improve the waste management services provided to residents.

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“One of these policies was to introduce the three-stream collection of rubbish, recycling and organic waste at the kerbside. This has been achieved countywide through the introduction of alternate weekly collections, which see rubbish collected one week and recycling/organic waste collected the next.

“In 2003/04, Suffolk had a recycling rate of 25%. By 2013/14, this had risen to 53%. We therefore currently have no plans to change our highly successful alternate weekly bin collection system.”

Vouchers for national and local retailers have been worth up to £135 a year in pilot schemes elsewhere in the country.

But waste bosses have said it would take months to change back to weekly collections if the decision was ever made. The deadline for applying for the Government grants is November 7.

Pressure on the partnership to revert back to weekly collections comes at a time when recycling rates in the county have stalled.

In the past four years the amount of waste recycled has increased by just 2.4% from 50.6% in 2009/10 to 53% for 2013/14. Three years ago the recycling figure was at 53.8%.

Elsewhere a scheme in Suffolk to promote textiles recycling has been defended after it failed to hit its target. When it was launched in 2012 council bosses wanted to recycle 2,000 tonnes a year but so far only around 850 tonnes have been saved from going to landfill.

Mr Nunn said: “Suffolk was the first county in England to launch a countywide textiles scheme. This ground breaking scheme has re-used and recycled over 850 tonnes of textiles since its launch in July 2012. This is a significant achievement and has, as a result, saved waste from landfill and Suffolk taxpayers money.”

“As no one had launched a countywide scheme of this nature before, when we were planning the scheme it soon became clear there was no existing evidence on which to base any performance targets.

“We therefore set ourselves a broad target based on amount of textiles being sent to landfill. Although these initial targets have not been met, the scheme has still proven its benefits and we are currently considering new ways to refresh the campaign.”

Mr Pickles has 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.”

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