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Controversy as Wales told of alternate-week refuse collections

By Greg Pitcher

The Welsh Government used revelation of its recycling success this week as a platform to prepare the country for a wave of controversial alternate-week collections.

Figures showed that the country added five percentage points to its recycling rate in a year, taking it to the level England is aspiring to.

Wales recycled 17.6% in 2003/4, up from 12.7% in 2002/3 and above the 17% target England hopes to hit in 2003/4.

Environment Minister Carwyn Jones said the results were evidence of a changing attitude to waste that would lead to new ways of dealing with it.

Jones alluded particularly to an increased use of hotly debated alternate-week collections of general refuse and recyclables.

Advocates of this scheme say collecting refuse fortnightly allows more money to be spent on recycling and encourages residents to separate more waste.

But residents regularly protest against their rubbish being left to rot for 14 days at a time, and some people claim recycling collections are often contaminated with general waste.

Southampton City Council caused uproar when it scrapped its alternate-week scheme last month due to health and safety fears despite having the support of its residents.

Bracknell Forest Borough Councillor Terry Mills said last week: We all know alternate-week collections are where its at, but Im not going to be the politician who brings them in to my borough.

Jones appears to be more willing to stick his neck on the line. He said of the new figures: This is excellent news and confirms my belief that we are successfully changing the way we deal with our rubbish in Wales.

We have quadrupled the amount of rubbish we recycle or compost since the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales.

Building on our success so far will mean future changes to the way we manage our waste in Wales.

With material and energy prices likely to rise, it is more important than ever that we conserve essential resources and do not throw them away.

To achieve this while keeping Council Tax down, local authorities may have to reduce the frequency of rubbish collections to concentrate on recycling collections.

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