Going back to weekly bin collections is a rubbish idea

I’m going to talk rubbish, if you don’t mind. No change there, I hear you cry.
No, I mean the stuff you put in bins. The stuff that councils call waste or refuse and the rest of us call rubbish.
This is because Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles wants local authorities to bring back weekly bin collections.
Indeed, he has gone so far as to incentivise the move – setting aside £250m of central government funds to pay councils which reintroduce weekly collections.
Announcing the new deal, Mr Pickles said: “I firmly believe that it is the right of every English man and woman that their chicken tikka masala remnants can be put in the bin without the worry that a fortnight later it is rotting and making life unpleasant.”
Mr Pickles, who clearly enjoys the odd curry himself by the look of him, said he believed weekly collections were better for the environment and for public health.
He also said that the public would understand the move as bin collections were ‘one of the few visible council services’.
Often I agree with the straight-talking Mr Pickles but I can only assume that this brainwave was the result of a quiet news week at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
To give him his due, Mr Pickles certainly knows how to play to the gallery.
But that’s all this ‘Back To The Future’ move really is: An easy win for a government forced to take deeply unpopular decisions because of the most challenging of economic climates.
Well, I’m sorry Mr Pickles but I’m with the many local authorities across the country – including Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Moorlands and Newcastle – who have no plans to revert back to weekly collections despite your overtures.
They were among more than half of all councils who switched to fortnightly collections in recent years. It helped them to hit recycling targets and saved them money.
Of course, when local councils switched to fortnightly collections, the letters pages of local newspapers such as The Sentinel were filled with the despairing pleas of those who didn’t have a minute to separate out their recyclables but found the time to put pen to paper and witter on about the inconvenience of it all.
These are presumably the same people who moan about the council not keeping the streets clean yet create more rubbish in a two weeks than a small African nation.
The move to fortnightly bin collections has been blamed for increased numbers of rats in towns and cities and other potential health hazards.
But mostly people complain because it forces them to think and act more responsibly.
I, for one, am glad that many councils only collect the rubbish every two weeks.
It makes the lazy, short-sighted types who couldn’t give a damn about the environment think long and hard about what they use and what they chuck in the bin.
Yes, I appreciate that some homes – especially larger families – have a more difficult time of it than Ethel who lives alone at number 42.
I should know because the start of the five-year nappies and baby wipes stage in our house coincided with the introduction of fortnightly collections.
But all it actually takes is for us to think a little smarter.
It’s no different to reusing shopping bags rather than asking for handfuls of plastic carrier bags when you do the supermarket shop.
Whether or not you believe the predictions of doom or subscribe to the global warming theory, we all have a role to play in helping the planet.
From the industrial polluters to the companies who use too much packaging.
From the mums who drive their children to school when they could walk to the morons who fly-tip or drop litter.
It is easy to think that what you do doesn’t make a great deal of difference but frankly that is a cop out.
The fact is not enough is done in schools to educate youngsters about their role as custodians of the environment.
This has led to generations growing up thinking that it someone else’s responsibility to clean up their mess.
However, there are simply too many of us creating too much waste for public services or companies or even the Government to shoulder the burden alone.
We expect local authorities to keep our streets clean and empty our bins but, in truth, it is us – the rubbish-makers – who set the tone for the communities we live in.
This isn’t me being a tree-hugger. This is me not wanting my children to grow up in a world where it’s OK to create unnecessary mountains of rubbish.


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