Always look on the bright side

1st June 2011 Posted by

Front page news in the Telegraph at the weekend read “Government deal means councils will restore weekly bin days”. This is a personal preference of not only Eric Pickles but now David Cameron too.

The movement from weekly to fortnightly collections has been very successful in changing the behaviour of British people to recycle more and save cash-strapped local authorities considerable amounts of money. However, despite there being compelling evidence of the benefits, there is still a political drive to return to weekly bin collections.

I was hoping that the central theme of the Waste Review, to be announced on 14 June, would be to stimulate investment in a new green infrastructure leading to growth and jobs. However, sometimes in life you have to accept that even if you don’t agree with the policy you have to see how you can get the best out of it.

Part of the proposal is that local authorities will be given extra funding. If you step back and analyse the real reason for the public dislike for the fortnightly residual waste collection, it stems from the fact that mixed waste including food begins to smell after a number of days. Therefore, if this food waste was removed from the rest of the residual waste and part of the funding went towards it being collected weekly, then this additional expenditure could lead to an improvement of recycling rates. As this food waste becomes available through weekly collections it could be sent to anaerobic digestion plants to produce much needed energy. In addition, the rest of the recyclables in the residual waste, now not contaminated by food, could be more easily recycled.

So what the Government sees as just a return to weekly bin collections to gain public support, if well managed, could also have the hidden benefit of meeting some of their green ambitions.

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