Minister defends fortnightly bin collectionsHe says no evidence the scheme poses health risks

27 April 2007

The government has defended ‘alternate’ rubbish collections amid growing concerns that they encourage rats and disease.

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw said there was ‘no evidence’ that removing food and other general waste fortnightly posed a health risk.

As many as four in ten local authorities have now dropped the conventional weekly collection routine in a bid to boost recycling.

Items such as glass and cans are now often gathered one week, and other rubbish the next.

Health risks

But the change has sparked opposition from some householders who believe the move encourages vermin, as well as allowing refuse which has been hanging around to start smelling.

However, Mr Bradshaw said: ‘There's no evidence - and we have commissioned independent research - of more health risks from alternate weekly collections. If you manage your waste properly, you don't have a problem.

‘There are 300 councils in this country that have done this, some for 10 years, and their residents are perfectly well with it.

‘In some areas, in inner city areas, it would not be appropriate in my view, but it's up to local councils and local people to get what's best for them.’

More recycling

Mr Bradshaw said he appreciated there were ‘problems in some areas’, but councils with alternate weekly collections had ‘much higher rates of recycling’.

He also played down speculation that the government wanted to introduce a pay-as-you-throw system where people would be charged by councils based on their recycling habits and the volume of waste they produced.

‘We have not ruled it out but have no plans to introduce it at the moment,’ he said.

The Local Government Association insisted that authorities should only adopt the controversial schemes where they were sure they had local support, would not result in an overall increase in council tax and were matched by tough measures to tackle fly-tipping.

Excess packaging

Meanwhile, one of Britain's biggest supermarket chains is asking customers to return excess packaging.

Asda said the move will help put pressure on big name brands to reduce product waste.

Asda is asking shoppers to put excess packaging into huge wheelie bins in front of its outlets in York and Dewsbury. If successful, it will roll out the pilot scheme to all UK stores.

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