The high price of returning to weekly waste collections

At the end of last week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, announced the Government would make £250m available to councils which guarantee weekly collections for five years and demonstrate improvements in recycling and procurement.

However, Warwickshire Waste Partnership says the move back to weekly general waste collections would not only be a huge step backward in reducing recycling rates, but would also cost local taxpayers millions of pounds in landfill tax charges.

The majority of Warwickshire currently has an alternate week residual waste collection service with recycling collections and green waste collections taking place on the other week.

The Partnership says there are still weekly collections taking place in Warwickshire, just in a different form, often with better recycling and green waste collections than in other areas.

Warwickshire Waste Partnership highlights that the full costs of changing residual rubbish collections is not taken into account by the Government’s offer.

The Partnership says the additional collection costs of changing back to weekly collections across the whole partnership could be around £2.8m per annum. Whilst the Government has offered to cover the charge for five years it has not considered the huge extra cost Councils would be burdened with after the five years not to mention the more immediate costs of disposing of the additional waste.

The cost of landfill tax is currently £56 a tonne this year and increases by £8 each year. Assuming residents return to similar habits to when Warwickshire was collecting residual waste every week, if all of Warwickshire did return to weekly collections this could produce an additional 33,000 tonnes of rubbish a year for disposal. This could cost the taxpayers an additional £2.4m in disposal costs at this year’s disposal rates. In 2013/14 this could cost Warwickshire £3.3m.

Councillor Alan Cockburn, Chair of Warwickshire Waste Partnership, said: “Even if we wanted to we simply couldn’t afford to return to weekly rubbish collections even with the Government’s offer of funding. Not only that but it would be almost impossible to increase the amount of recycling in Warwickshire if we did return to the old collection systems.

“Alternate weekly collections have been a real success story in Warwickshire, resulting in dramatically increased recycling rates, and saving taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in potential landfill tax. By working with communities I believe the vast majority of local people in Warwickshire have embraced the new collection system.”

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For further information, please contact Laura Vesty or Caroline Faulkner, Waste Management, Warwickshire County Council 01926 41 8064 or 2458 lauravesty@warwickshire.gov.uk and carolinefaulkner@warwickshire.gov.uk

The Warwickshire Waste Partnership (WWP) is made up of elected Members and Officers from North Warwickshire Borough Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Stratford District Council, Warwick District Council and the District and Warwickshire County Council.

For more information about Recycle for Warwickshire Campaign go to www.warwickshire.gov.uk/recyclewarks