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No to weekly household waste collections: Mick Bull - West Notts Friends of the Earth

Monday 10th December 2007

Tabloid newspapers predicted plagues of rats and flies when District Councils moved to emptying our general waste bins every fortnight! This is simply not true.

Research shows that with fortnightly collections recycling rates have increased and taxpayers' money saved, all without harmful effects to health. If adopted nationwide it could save 1.2million tonnes of waste going to landfill, saving the taxpayer £22million in landfill fees. By collecting waste on alternate weeks, these financial savings alone are good reason to carry on.

The Local Government Association found most people are happy with fortnightly collections. Councils topping the recycling table are already using this system. Even so the UK is one of the worst countries in Europe for recycling, well behind Germany and Netherlands who have recycling rates of 58% and 65% respectively. The UK will struggle to meet the EU recycling target of 40% by 2010, the same year that Councils will be fined up to £150 per tonne for waste going to landfill above a set quota.

We have been taken in by throw-away culture to the point where we produce 100million tonnes of waste a year. Some households throw away roughly one-third of the food they buy. We need to reduce the waste we landfill or incinerate, both of which are environmentally unacceptable and pose health risks, before government sets a limit and fines those authorities who exceed them. Further collections for domestic food waste could be introduced and used to generate energy.

Careful management of food waste in your bin (compost fresh vegetable waste) counteracts problems with summer insects. But we all have a responsibility to cut down on what we throw away before we are made to pay. Central government too needs to enforce, rather than set weak voluntary agreements and unimaginative recycling targets.

Mick Bull

West Notts Friends of the Earth

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