The only local authority to fully sign up to the orginal brief of communities secretary Eric Pickles’ Weekly Collections Support Scheme has decided not to continue because it would be too expensive and would not meet TEEP requirements.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council was awarded £14.3m by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in 2012 in order to revert to weekly household bin collections for a minimum of five years.
The winning bid involved changing the existing fortnightly mixed dry recyclable collection to weekly, along with residual waste, and paper collected fortnightly.
But councillors have now told the DCLG it will not use the money after a report by consultancy Amec revealed the proposed collection method would not meet TEEP requirements under the Waste Framework Directive, which come into effect on 1 January 2015.
Three other options under consideration were also discounted, “due to the relevant options not meeting legal requirements and/or being financially disadvantageous”.
The authority will continue with fortnightly residual waste collections but with separate collection of glass and year-round collection of organic waste to match food collection.
The council was given an initial £383,290 from the fund to investigate the business case for weekly collections. It spent £111,547, coming to a conclusion in time for a deadline of 19 December, imposed by DCLG.
Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprises and clean city, said: “We were among about a fifth of councils who expressed an interest in the idea of reinstating weekly bin collections in 2010, and an even smaller number which successfully bid for funding.
“Unfortunately, the past four years have transformed not only the financial landscape in which local government must operate, but the legal framework covering waste collections. We have endured massive budget cuts in successive years, and the expert opinion from our financial advisers is that the funding offered by the Government would not cover the increased cost of implementing weekly collections during the course of a standard five-year contract, leaving us to make up the shortfall.
“Changes to environmental laws next year will make it impossible for the council to return to weekly residual waste collections cost-effectively. Having explored all the options in detail, we would prefer to look at more straightforward and sustainable ways to enhance recycling, such as by separating glass and leftover food from recycled and organic waste.”
The news will be a blow to Pickles, who has struggled to convince local authorities to continue with weekly residual collections.
MRW reported in 2012 that, out of 69 councils using fortnightly residual collections that won funding under the Weekly Collections Support Scheme, only Stoke-on-Trent said it would use the money to revert to weekly. Other authorities are using the fund for weekly food waste collections and other purposes.
A report by the Daily Mail in March revealed that, by the general election, around 18.5 million homes would not receive weekly collections.