Council scheme to collect bins only once a month 'forcing people to burn rubbish and fly-tip'

Victoria Ward
Refuse waiting to be collected in Liverpool - PA

Monthly bin collections have been introduced for the first time in England and Wales, causing fury amongst residents who say they are having to burn their rubbish.

The controversial scheme was launched in the county of Conwy, North Wales, following a year-long trial for its 11,000 households.

But it was met with anger from locals who said the trial had attracted more rats, seagulls and flies as the rotting piles of rubbish created hideous smells.

Several said they had been forced to buy incinerators to burn the bulging piles of waste.

Others have claimed the policy has led to an increase in fly-tipping and warned that there was a public health risk when the weather was warm.

At least 18 councils across England and Wales have moved to three-weekly rubbish collections, with a handful trialling four-weekly collections as they come under increasing pressure to reduce waste and increase recycling rates.

Two councils in Scotland -  Fife and Falkirk - already make four-weekly collections.

Under European Union targets the UK must recycle at least half of all household waste by 2020, with the figure currently at around 43 per cent.

Conwy council said the move could save £390,000 a year.

It said: “We currently recycle 64 per cent of our waste, which is really good, but we need to recycle 70 per cent by 2024/25 to meet the Welsh Government's targets. If these targets are not achieved the council may be fined.”

It said the trial of four-weekly collections led to a 14 percent increase in recycling and a 31 percent decrease in the amount of rubbish discarded in wheelie bins.

The council put extra measures in place to help residents recycle, including free collection of large items, free nappy bins for grandparents who look after children and bespoke collections for those who miss bin collections if they are on holiday.

Three and four-weekly bin collections were non-existent until 2014/15, when two councils adopted the system, data from waste charity Wrap has shown.

In 2009/10, some 245 councils organised weekly bin collections, a figure which has fallen by 34 per cent to 160. This is despite vigorous campaigning by waste activists and this newspaper to preserve a weekly service.

Over the same period the number of fortnightly collections has risen by 38 per cent from 219 to 303 councils.  

Meanwhile, it emerged last week that cling film, plant pots and takeaway trays are being recycled by less than 10 per cent of councils.

Data from Wrap showed that local authorities have drastically different recycling regimes, under which some households are able to recycle different items to others.

It means some households may be wasting their time trying to recycle some items marked as "recyclable" because they are unaware their council cannot recycle it.

Three councils - Rotherham, the Isles of Scilly, and Tonbridge and Malling - do not recycle plastic at all.

The Government is consulting on an overhaul of the recycling regime in the hope of improving recycling rates.