Councils in a pickle over what do to about ‘bin bible’ guidance


Local authorities are under increasing pressure to return to weekly collections after the publication of a ‘bin bible’ from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Although many local authorities will argue that they have seen recycling rates increase thanks to alternate week collections, the Guidance on weekly rubbish collections document from DCLG says that it busts 10 myths created by “bin barons” to cut weekly collections. According to the document, these include:

  • Fortnightly collections are not the only way to increase recycling – it is possible to retain weekly collections and recycle half of all rubbish
  • People don’t want their bin collected every week – surveys show that 95 per cent of residents want weekly collections
  • Fortnightly collections will save taxpayers’ money – innovative solutions can mean councils can protect weekly collections at little or no extra cost.

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.”

The publication of the document was initially made on Boxing Day but was swiftly withdrawn.

Speaking ahead of the full publication of the document, CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “CIWM welcomes best practice in any area of waste and resource management. However, what we have seen so far with regard to this guidance repeats the provocative language used on a number of occasions by Mr Pickles’ office and is likely to reignite damaging media debate that pits one type of collection scheme against another in an entirely unhelpful way.

“In seeking to undermine the concept of and evidence base for fortnightly or variable frequency collections, it shows little respect for the local decision making process enshrined in the Government’s Localism Act and the significant efforts made by local authorities to provide ‘value for money’ collection and recycling services that meet residents’ needs while keeping costs down and delivering maximum environmental benefit.

“Once again, it would appear that chasing headlines has taken priority over providing a policy framework that supports councils in the difficult decisions that they are currently having to make about local service provision.

“Both the public and private sector waste industry is already driving hard to achieve efficiency and quality and there is plenty of evidence of innovation in all aspects of waste collection, some of it linked to Mr Pickles’ Weekly Collection Support Scheme and plenty that isn’t.”