Waste management experts have claimed that trials for monthly bin collections in the UK are the next obvious step for tackling the nations stalling recycling rates. Some councils, including Fife in Scotland, have already begun trialling once-a-month collections of waste which goes to landfill, with more recycling waste collections to encourage their use.
Are Monthly Bin Collections The Way Forward?
The scheme in Fife is the first to trial one month collections over a long-term period. Other councils around the country have already tried three and four week collections on a smaller scale. It is hoped that by collecting recyclable waste more often it will encourage people to take more consideration of their where they put their waste.
“It’s an obvious next step – as long as nappy and food waste are collected more frequently,” says Margaret Bates, professor of sustainable wastes management at the University of Northampton.
“If you’re going to keep reducing local authority budgets, either you try and do things that, although people don’t want them, they make sense – like reducing waste collections so people think more about the waste they are generating and act on it – or you start cutting back on services,” she said.
Fife council have said that they are trialling one month collections after residents demanded the change. However some have argued against the idea, claiming that less frequent collections are unsustainable and attract vermin. They have responded by giving out larger bins to bigger families or anyone else who needs one for specific reasons.
All councils in the UK are under pressure to meet the EU target of 50% recycling by 2020, whilst also trying to deal with huge cutbacks to their budgets. Figures released last year show that recycling rates in the UK have slowed to 44.2%, an increase of only 0.1% on the previous year.
Some experts claim that monthly collections are one of the only effective methods to encourage recycling which will work in the UK. One alternative is to charge for waste, something which has been effective in Germany and a few other European countries. However this approach is less popular in the UK and would struggle to be effective.
“We’re well behind the curve in looking at new ways of doing waste management collections. People need to start thinking about their impact in the same way as they do with energy use. Waste is the only service that we don’t pay for proportional to our use of it. With the rise of water meters, the more water you use, the more you pay – the same with electricity, gas and other services,” said Bates.
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