Press release

New government guidance on weekly bin collections

Guidance for councils on weekly bin collections published.

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

Rubbish bins

Eric Pickles today (4 January 2014) publishes the first ever guidance on weekly bin collections, encouraging councils in England to support weekly services. The guidance also demolishes the “top 10 tall stories” that “bin barons” have used as excuses to cut the frequency of rubbish collection services.

As part of encouraging councils to deliver better services for Council Tax payers, the Local Government Secretary is supporting weekly collections by publishing examples where councils have kept weekly collections, increased recycling and made common sense efficiency savings.

The ‘bin bible’ report published today is being sent to every local authority in England, and is a direct challenge of the fortnightly bin industry. This is in strong contrast to the devolved administration in Wales which is now moving towards monthly bin collections.

Some of the myths employed by bin bureaucrats and deconstructed in the guidance include:

  • A move to fortnightly collections is the only way to improve recycling rates – in fact numerous councils have managed to recycle over half of all rubbish while maintaining weekly collections.
  • People don’t want their bins collected every week – surveys from councils have actually shown over 95% of residents agree with keeping weekly collections. Councils should listen to their residents.
  • Fortnightly collections will save taxpayers’ money – it is a myth that this is the only way to save money. Innovative solutions can mean councils can protect weekly collections at little or no extra cost.
  • Only fortnightly collections can make residents recycle – reward schemes like Windsor and Maidenhead’s are dramatically increasing recycling.
  • Weekly rubbish collections need to be scrapped to meet European Union regulations - government continues to support weekly rubbish collections.

This new guidance builds on steps the government has previously taken in England including:

  • safeguarding weekly collections for 6 million households through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme
  • removing Whitehall directives demanding fortnightly bin collections
  • supporting over 41 innovative reward schemes to back recycling
  • abolishing plans for new bin taxes
  • changing the law to scrap unfair bin fines
  • changing building regulations to tackle ‘bin blight’
  • removing powers of entry and snooping powers from bin inspectors and scrapped guidance telling people to rifle through families’ bins

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

This government is standing up for hard-working people and getting rid of barmy bin policies which made families’ lives hell.

Rubbish collections are the most visible service that people get for their £120 a month Council Tax bill. People deserve a comprehensive weekly service in return for their taxes.

We have exposed 10 false fictions fortnightly bin barons cling to as excuses for cutting services. If councils adopt this new guide as their ‘bin bible’, they will be able to save taxpayers’ money and still increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.

Across Britain there is a clear choice on offer. The government in England is standing up for weekly collections; by contrast, the administrations in Wales and Scotland are moving towards monthly collections.

A number of local authorities in England are already showing that innovative approaches can deliver quality services to their residents. The following are examples included in today’s government guidance that have saved weekly collections and increased recycling:

  • Bournemouth Borough Council – a weekly collection that has one of the best recycling rates in England. Provided increased capacity for residents to recycle and developing a reward system that will accrue points to spend locally.

  • Lewes District Council – has maintained a weekly collection service of residual waste while promoting innovative recycling measures including social media, local champions and competitions.

  • Ribble Valley Council – operates a weekly collection over the largest rural area in Lancashire who will be using the Weekly Collection Fund to divert an extra 770 tonnes of food waste away from landfill every year. The council operates a low cost, high quality service with over 90% customer satisfaction.

Further information

Ten myths busted

  1. There is no alternative to fortnightly collections to improving recycling rates.
  2. Fortnightly collection schemes reduce the overall amount of waste produced.
  3. In areas with low recycling rates, introducing a fortnightly collection is the only way to change residents’ attitudes to recycling
  4. The £250 million Weekly Collection Support Scheme will be damaging to the environment and have a disastrous impact on recycling.
  5. People don’t want their bins emptied every week.
  6. Other than inconveniencing residents, there are no other problems caused by a move to fortnightly collections of residual waste.
  7. Local authorities can’t commit to weekly collections of residual waste in uncertain times.
  8. The only option for a local authority to save money is to move to a fortnightly collection of residual waste.
  9. The introduction of a fortnightly collection will bring significant savings to the council and in turn therefore to the Council Tax payer.
  10. Traditional weekly rubbish collections must be scrapped to meet European Union recycling regulations.

Media enquiries

Published 4 January 2014