DCLG weekly collection campaign facing axe

In a move likely to please many in the waste and recycling industry, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is set to abandon its campaign to reinstate weekly waste collections due to expected spending cuts in the autumn spending review, according to reports.

A government source quoted in the Daily Mail today stated that the campaign, a pet project of previous Secretary of State Eric Pickles, was a “very expensive scheme and it has proved to be a pretty ineffective one”.

“It would be very surprising if it survives the spending review. There are other priorities. It’s time to move on”, the source continued.

The DCLG faces cuts of up to 40 per cent in the autumn spending review.

DCLG weekly collection campaign facing axe
Sir Eric Pickles
Reversion to weekly collections avoided despite funding

During his time as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the recently-knighted Sir Eric Pickles championed weekly bin collections, finding large sums of money to encourage them, in a campaign many commentators said appropriated the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (Defra) waste and recycling portfolio.

In 2012, he set up a £250-million fund, the Weekly Collection Support Scheme (WCSS), to encourage local authorities to return to and support existing weekly collections of residual waste.

However, none of the 86 councils awarded funding have reverted back to weekly collections of residual waste, and only 18 used the funding to introduce, support or expand a weekly collection of food or organic waste.

The only council to agree to revert to weekly collections Stoke-on-Trent City Council, was awarded £14.3 million by the scheme, but the council’s plans have since been dropped as weekly collections were ultimately deemed too expensive, despite the funding.

Other initiatives sought to belie ‘myth’ of fortnightly collections

In addition to the unsuccessful £250-million WCSS, Pickles also released controversial weekly collection guidance, dubbed the ‘Bin Bible’, in 2014 to ‘show how [English] councils can deliver a comprehensive and frequent rubbish and recycling collection service, and deliver practical savings from common sense steps that do not harm the quality of the service that local taxpayers receive’.

He then voiced a wish to legislate for ‘minimum service standards’ for waste collections, indicating a new law could “make it more difficult to do fortnightly collections”.

He also committed £6-million to a recycling initiatives fund that was only available to authorities that collected waste on a weekly basis.

Announcing the winners of the fund in March 2015 (shortly before he was ousted from DCLG), he stated: “It is a myth that fortnightly bin collections or unfair bin fines are needed to increase recycling. Rewards for recycling show how working with families can deliver environmental benefits without the draconian approach of punishing people and leaving out smelly rubbish.”

In May this year, Pickles was removed from his role at the DCLG, during the post-election reshuffle. He was replaced at DCLG by Greg Clark.

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