Rubbish - Pickles digs in
By Trevor Carbin
Originally published by Trevor Carbin Liberal Democrat
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a fund of £250m to be bid for by councils who wish to keep weekly residual waste collection. Speaking to the BBC he said he wanted to go back to a system of "weekly refuge (sic) collections". He also stated that: "We don't want to see people in landfill". However the money is unlikely to exceed the costs of Landfill Tax and the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme which the EU and the government have been using to encourage councils to increase recycling.
Comment - This announcement is a joke. For one thing the amount on offer is unlikely to be enough to make councils want to renegotiate contracts and revert to an outmoded method of collection. The phrase 'weekly collection' is misleading - under the new arrangements currently being implemented by Wiltshire Council, for example, there will be four different refuse collections every fortnight - an average of one every 3.5 days.
Weekly residual waste collections reduce recycling by making it too tempting for people to throw everything in the bin. Fortnightly collections supplemented by effective collections of all types of recyclable waste result in higher rates of recycling and reduced landfill, saving money for local taxpayers.
Here's the WC response:
"We will continue to implement the improvements to Wiltshire's waste and recycling collection service. These improvements will mean everyone in the county will receive the same service. It will also reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, which will dramatically lower the amount of money the county's taxpayers spend on landfill tax now and in the long term. Up to 50,000 additional tonnes of waste is expected to be recycled or otherwise diverted from landfill over the next two years as a result of the council's changes. This will mean savings of more than £3 million in landfill tax.
Residents in the west and east have had fortnightly collections since 2007 and recycling rates in these areas are higher than those in the south and north which have weekly waste collections.
We will, however, consider the government's announcement regarding extra funding for weekly waste collections when more information is made available. It is important to clarify whether this would be continuous funding or a one-off payment. We also need to establish how much money Wiltshire would receive and whether this would offset the ever-increasing cost of sending waste to landfill.
Current recycling rates across the county -
Fortnightly collection: West: 44%
Fortnightly collection: East: 46%
Weekly collection: South: 37%
Weekly collection: North: 26%
Further information about the additional funding is due to be released by DCLG later this week."
And here's a press release from the Liberal Democrats:
Wiltshire Liberal Democrats have welcomed Secretary of State Eric Pickles' announcement of £250 million new money for waste collection and recycling, but criticised the strings attached that make weekly bin collection a requirement.
Jon Hubbard commented "What a shame that we won't be allowed to use the money to introduce weekly food waste collections, a policy that Lib Dems have been pushing for since the formation of Wiltshire Council.
"This again demonstrates just how much the Conservatives never practice what they preach. Forcing single weekly collections on councils will dramatically reduce the amount of recycling achieved in communities and the council will end up paying more in landfill fines than they receive in additional grant funding from central government.
"Lib Dems in government are pushing for greater localism, letting local communities make the decisions that affect them. Unfortunately Conservatives have an urge to take power away from people, and this central diktat from Eric Pickles will mean that money can't be used in the way people in Wiltshire would want.
"Arrangements for bin collection and recycling should be determined by local people according to local preferences, not by a distant Conservative Administration in Westminster and an increasingly bossy Secretary of State".