Government

Wolverhampton latest council to cut food waste collections

Wolverhampton latest council to cut food waste collectionsThe City of Wolverhampton will stop its food waste collection service completely by the end of June, apparently as a money-saving measure.

The move was agreed by the City of Wolverhampton Council in March, and comes alongside plans to begin charging for garden waste and to move from a weekly to a fortnightly collection of residual waste in September, changes the council hopes will contribute to savings of £2.4 million across the organisation.

The separate food waste collections cost approximately £500,000 a year, and the council has claimed that ‘very few households across the city’ make use of the service. As a result, the service will cease completely by 29 June, with residents encouraged to begin composting their food waste at home instead. The council is offering each Wolverhampton household a £30 discount on a home compost bin or food waste digester.

Cabinet Member for City Environment Cllr Steve Evans said in March: “Through these changes, the council is able to meet its agreed budget whilst investing to provide a platform for service changes as agreed by full council in February last year.”

He added: "The new service will also enable the city council to increase recycling requirements to 50 per cent by 2020.” However, there is growing consensus in the waste and recycling sector that reduced residual waste collections need to come alongside a weekly collection of food waste, which will be a key driver in improving recycling rates.

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Environment Strategy contains a goal of extending weekly food waste collections to all properties, while the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) recommended a weekly food waste service as a necessary measure to go along with three- or four-weekly residual waste schemes, getting smelly and pest-attracting waste off the streets quickly.

A number of Welsh local authorities have been moving towards three and even four-weekly residual services, far ahead of English councils, in order to help them meet the Welsh Government's high recycling target of 70 per cent by 2025. Ashley Collins of Powys County Council told Resource how the weekly food waste collections there were crucial when moving to a three-weekly collection system.

Read more: The art of three weekly – how Powys fared

However, with funding cuts to English local authorities hitting hard, Wolverhampton is not the first to take the step to axe its food waste service; on 5 June, Barnet Council also voted to discontinue its collections, which it says cost an annual £300,000.

The lack of funding means councils suffering from low uptake of their services, as both Barnet and Wolverhampton have claimed, often do not have the means to roll out effective communications campaigns, which are needed to educate residents about how and why to recycle their food waste. 

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