Press release

Better bin buying would save £70 million every year, says report

Councils can make sensible savings by joining forces to buy refuse trucks and wheelie bins, according to a new report.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Recycling bins

Councils can make sensible savings by joining forces to buy refuse trucks and wheelie bins, according to a new report published today (29 March 2015).

Ministers are clear town halls no longer have the luxury of procuring waste management equipment in isolation and therefore must work together to deliver a better deal for local taxpayers. The report has found £70 million could be saved by town halls every year simply through better procurement and more standardised processes.

It said every wheeled bin in England costs an estimated £5 more than it does in Germany, therefore a council splashing out on 50,000 branded bins could be wasting £250,000 of local taxpayer’s money.

The report suggested potential savings of up to 10% on refuse trucks and more than a third (35%) on bins could be achieved through clearer specification and procuring in larger volumes with other councils.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

For too long rubbish town hall procurement policies have wasted taxpayer’s money as councils have worked in isolation when they should have been working together to deliver a better deal for local taxpayers.

People want and deserve a comprehensive bin collection service in return for their Council Tax, which is why this government is working with town halls to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.

Instead of cutting frontline services or introducing stealth taxes such as charges for the collection of garden rubbish, councils should be making the sensible savings such as more joint working, better procurement and new technology.

The government is also funding a project whereby a group of councils will work together to explore how they can standardise their approach to digital waste services. The project will increase transparency and give councils greater flexibility to switch suppliers more easily at lower cost.

Further information

See the new report.

The councils working on the project to create through local digital standards for waste services are:

  • Adur and Worthing councils
  • Brentwood borough council
  • Bristol city council
  • Calderdale council
  • Chelmsford city council
  • Luton borough council

A digital local waste service standard will make it easier for councils to work together on collection services, which has the potential to reduce cost and therefore potentially reduce the Council Tax liability, or redirect savings into other services.

What the coalition government has done so far:

  • safeguarded weekly collections for 6 million households through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme as well as championing innovation and best practice; the scheme is enabling 86 projects in 81 local areas to deliver improved waste collection and recycling services for residents

  • issued the first ever Whitehall guidance on weekly bin collections, demolishing the myths that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling; it shows how councils can deliver a comprehensive and frequent rubbish and recycling collection service, and deliver practical savings from common sense steps that do not harm the quality of the service that local taxpayers receive

  • through the Recycling Reward Scheme, funded 46 projects in up to 60 local authorities that will reward residents for doing the right thing and reducing, reusing and recycling more of their waste; this is in addition to funding 40 innovative reward initiatives through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme

  • stopped Audit Commission inspections which marked down councils who do not adopt fortnightly rubbish collections, and rejected Audit Commission guidance which advocated fortnightly collections

  • published a report on the opportunities available for local authorities to make significant savings through better procurement of waste management goods

  • launched the first every Community Clear Up Day on 21 March 2015 which saw hundreds of events taking place across the country to reduce the country’s litter scourge

  • produced a summary of available powers which can be used to deal with illegal and unauthorised encampments to reduce the associated incidents of fly-tipping

  • funded Clean Up Britain to reduce litter in Plymouth city centre and create a replicable model for a successful campaign between a local sports team, local agencies and local businesses to tackle littering

  • through the Localism Act, revoked the 2008 legislation that allowed for the imposition of new bin ‘pay as you throw’ taxes

  • removed powers of entry and snooping powers from bin inspectors and scrapped guidance telling councils to rifle through families’ bins.

  • changing building regulations to tackle ‘bin blight’ - the ugly clutter of unsightly bins, which ruin the look of neighbourhoods, and families’ homes and gardens

  • changing the law through the Deregulation Act to scrap unfair bin fines – people will no longer be able to be fined for accidentally putting their rubbish out early or putting the wrong item in the wrong bin

  • changing the law to prevent councils introducing ‘backdoor charges’ for residents to use their local tip to dispose of household waste; these charges will inconvenience residents; make recycling harder; and increase fly-tipping and backyard burning

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Published 29 March 2015