Coalition’s weekly bin collection ‘broken promise’

By Alex Stevenson

Ministers will not force councils to abandon fortnightly bin collections, the government's waste review has concluded.

The controversial shift away from weekly bin collections has prompted anger from those forced to endure food waste festering in their bins for two weeks.

Labour accused communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles of suffering a "personal humiliation" on the issue after years of "overblown promises" to restore weekly bin collections.

Today's waste review has seen the government conclude that local authorities have a "reasonable expectation" to collect rubbish weekly, but that it cannot force them to do so.

"We will continue to help local communities develop fit for purpose local solutions for collecting and dealing with household waste and work with councils to meet households' reasonable expectations for weekly collections, particularly of smelly waste," the review stated.

There had been speculation that the government might provide extra funding for weekly bin collections, but this has proved unfounded.

Shadow communities and local government secretary Caroline Flint said that Mr Pickles "should learn the lesson that chasing headlines is no substitute for properly worked out policies to make communities cleaner, greener and better places to live".

Friends of the Earth's waste campaigner Julian Kirby said politicians' fixation with weekly bin collections missed the point, however.

"Ministers must stop trying to bully councils into running weekly bin rounds – fortnightly collections are hygienic and popular, provided they're accompanied by decent recycling and weekly food waste pick-ups too," he said.

"Weekly bin collections are more expensive to run and lead to less waste being recycled, which is bad news for cash-strapped councils and families and bad news for the environment."

Meanwhile, councils will be banned from using microchips on bins to monitor residents' waste usage.

Fines for those who overfill their bins or leave them out on the wrong day will be banned.

"We will remove criminal sanctions applying to householders and ensure that the level of fines local authorities can impose are appropriate," the review added.

"In addition, we are repealing certain powers of entry in England that currently enable local authorities to inspect household waste."