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Partnership says fund could boost food collections

The government’s new £250m fund to tempt councils back to weekly collections could boost food waste collections, according to one waste group.

Despite as-yet limited details of the government cash for councils, Kent Waste Partnership welcomed the announcement and believes the money will be available to fund weekly food waste collections.

KWP is made up of 12 district councils and nine of these already have weekly food – or ‘smelly’ – waste collections. The remaining three will have weekly food waste collections in place by 2013.

An official KWP statement said “weekly collections of food waste are at the heart of our strategic direction”. It then argued that waste models should be tailored to the local area.

“What we believe is that waste collection and disposal choices need to be harmonised with the needs of the economy and across the supply chain. This allows local areas to ‘sing a slightly different tune’ while ensuring the whole package sounds, and is, coherent in delivering local and national agendas.”

Warwickshire Waste Partnership, however, said it 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.

Chair Cllr Alan Cockburn 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.”

In Kent, there is a mixture of alternate weekly and weekly collections as well as the special collection model that the KWP is working towards rolling out to all councils. The model is based on weekly food waste collections with fortnightly collections of residual waste, paper and cardboard, dry recyclables and green garden waste.

For KWP has established that moving all four waste collection authorities in East Kent over to this model could save £40-£50m over ten years. It would also boost recycling and composting rates from 32% to around 50%.

KWP chair councillor Paul Barrington-King said: “The secretaries of state have jointly identified the need to put in place the right frequency of collections for the right materials. Weekly collections of food waste is the right frequency for this material.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced the £250m fund just before the Tory party conference and the Department for Communities and Local Government said more detail would follow.

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