Communities and Local Government Committee: Press Notice

Session 2006 - 07‚ ‚ 16 July 2007

Refuse Collection

Government's waste charge plans ₓhalf-hearted and likely to fail

Plans to encourage householders to recycle more rubbish are too timid, too complicated and unlikely to work, the Communities and Local Government select committee has found.

In its report on Refuse Collection published today, the committee concludes the financial incentive schemes will be seen as an additional charge for a service most householders already believe they pay for through their council tax.

The MPs say rewards as little as ‚£20 or ‚£30 a year for sorting waste into as many as five different bins, bags or boxes will not outweigh the negative psychological impact of making ₓbadâ‚? households pay more.

Instead of bringing the radical change the Government wants, the schemes could lead to public protest, as well as more fly-tipping and non-payment, as councils have no clear guidelines on how to enforce payment.

The committee agrees with the Government that local councils are best placed to determine the most appropriate refuse collection methods for their areas, but says a national response is needed to highlight best practice and encourage its wider adoption.

The Committee also agrees that recently controversial alternate weekly collections (AWC), in which refuse is taken away one week and recyclable materials the next, is suitable for some councils..‚ But it argues that AWC is not appropriate to all areas, particularly highly populated urban centres with crowded streets and limited storage space for bins.

Recycling has tended to increase in areas where AWC has been introduced, but the committee found that no direct link between those increases and the new system has been proven.

Although research conducted to date has found no evidence of adverse health impacts from AWC systems,‚ the Committee felt, given the strength of public concern, allied with a wealth of anecdotal evidence about increased populations of flies, maggots, rats and other vermin, there should be further research into the health implications of AWC.‚

The Committee wants the Government to do more to encourage local authorities to adopt separate food waste collection and for food waste to be collected at least once a week.‚

In the long term there should be a move towards a national strategy to encourage householders and retailers to cut down on food waste. At present a third of all food bought is subsequently thrown away, wasting households on average ‚£400 a year and adding to refuse collection costs.

Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee Dr Phyllis Starkey said: ₓOur clear conclusion is that no single collection system could suit every authority across the range of all local circumstances.

ₓWe would like the Government come up with a core definition of what householders should expect from their refuse collection. This should include no complicated rules, rubbish collected when the council says it will be and schemes to suit every household from the largest rural home to the most crowded urban area.

ₓWhat we do not want is, as Ben Bradshaw, then the Minister for Waste, put it, local authorities ₓblunderingâ‚? into AWC before proper consideration and consultation has taken place as to whether this is the best system for that area.â‚?

Notes for Editors:

3. The current membership of the Communities and Local Government Committee is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Martin Horwood MP (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab), David Wright (Lab).

4. Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, Media Officer, Tel: 0207 219 0718/ Mobile: 07917488557 / e-mail:

5. The Report will be available in the following ways:

₠Copies of the Report may be obtained, on publication, from the usual outlets, including The Parliamentary Bookshop and The Stationery Office (reference: Fifth Report of the Committee, Session 2006-07, HC 536-I).‚

₠The Report will be posted on the internet at approximately 11.00 am on 16 July, and will be accessible via the Committee's webpages.

6.The oral and written evidence received during the inquiry will be published in a separate volume, HC 536-II.‚ It may currently be viewed at:‚