Weekly argument is beginning to get tiring

15th January 2013 Posted by

Given the parlous state of the economy one would imagine there were more important things for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to worry about, but elevating the seemingly innocuous weekly bin collection to the exalted status of a “fundamental” (or “basic” or even “human”, depending on the passion of the moment) right has meant that the issue continues to fascinate. Yesterday’s Daily Mail rehashes the old argument that a fortnightly rubbish collection is a service halved (really? overall, we continue to collect as much rubbish as before), while DCLG, under the breathless banner “weekly collection saved”, points by way of justification to a public survey in which 67 per cent  of respondents wanted their weekly collection back, making much of the statistic that 83 per cent  of households with a weekly collection were satisfied with their service, compared to 74 per cent with a fortnightly collection service.

Amidst the politicking we lose sight of some basics. Firstly, our policies are supposed to be evidence-based, yet we scrap precisely those measures which the Government’s own research has been shown to improve recycling (pay-as-you-throw and fortnightly residual waste collections). Secondly, this blanket talk of weekly frequency obscures a more nuanced debate on waste collection – for example, the difference between collecting ‘smelly’ chicken tikka masala food waste weekly, while introducing fortnightly collections for ‘non-smelly’ dry recyclates like paper, glass and plastics. Thirdly, what happened to localism? The idea was for Councils to create solutions that best suited their particular circumstances – and pockets.

Insisting on keeping alive an Act of 1936 when the world of waste management has moved on, seems needlessly dogmatic.

Daily Mail article:

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