Councils Criticise Imminent Changes To Waste Collection
Blue, yellow and green tank for separate garbage collection against bacground with green plants, waste recycling and conservation of the environment concept

Plans to introduce new waste collection policies across England have been heavily criticised by council leaders, the BBC news website reports. The government is expected to shortly introduce changes that are intended to make waste and recycling collections more uniform and consistent.

Under the new plans, councils will be required to separately collect six different categories of recyclable waste. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) claim that the reforms will make it easier for households and businesses to manage their waste and will boost recycling rates in the UK.

A statement on the government website explains that: “Local authorities (LAs) will be mandated to collect a consistent range of dry materials from households across all localities in England, a weekly separate food waste collection and garden waste collection.”

However, in reality, the time and effort required to sort and collect food and garden waste, and metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard, has been described by councils as ‘unworkable.’ 

Currently, English councils have their own mandate for waste collection policies, which are not consistent across all local authority areas.

It is estimated that implementing the changes will cost each council £465m a year at a time when council budgets are already under severe pressure. Some councils have also raised concerns that the extra rules will backfire and discourage people from sorting out their recycling. 

Sarah Nelmes, the leader of Three Rivers District Council in Hertfordshire, told the BBC: “Our residents do the recycling, we just make it easy for them. If we change the rules, some people just won’t bother. If I had to have another three boxes, would I recycle?”

She added: “I’m concerned it will be chaos because everybody will be trying to do the same thing at the same time. If every council in the country is having to buy different bins, that’s not going to work great.” She also said that councils would have to buy extra bin lorries and expand waste recycling depots to cope with the extra pressure. 

Peter Fleming, the Conservative leader of Sevenoaks District Council in Kent, voiced fears that the extra traffic caused by more bin lorries on the road would increase pollution and erosion on the roads. 

He told the BBC: “In a place like mine, where the majority of people don’t live in the towns, why should we be running 26-tonne diesel vehicles all over the countryside to pick up Mrs Miggins’s jam jar, or a bit of peeling from her potatoes?”

“This does feel like some kind of zealot in Defra pushing this through. And I’m not sure they’ll achieve the environmental outcomes they’re looking for.”

A Defra spokesperson said that a public consultation had been carried out on the proposed changes, and that they are designed to benefit the UK recycling industry. Under the reforms, food waste is expected to be collected weekly and garden waste collection will be free of charge. 

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