A Taxpayers’ Alliance survey into the number of bins each local authority collects has been criticised by figures in the waste industry for oversimplifying waste collections.
The survey found that the average number of bins into which residents were required to sort was four, while 21 local authorities collected seven or more.
According to the Alliance the survey was conducted using a mixture of requests under the Freedom of Information Act and publically available information on council websites, in order to identify the collection methods for all local authorities in the UK.
The Campaign for Real Recycling campaign coordinator Andy Moore said: “We encourage systems that believe the public can play a role in maximising the economic value of their recyclables, this can be achieved with relatively few containers. There is a danger that in their eagerness to make things simple, the Taxpayer’s Alliance is guilty of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
Local Government Association environment board chairman Cllr Gary Porter commented that there is no “one-size-fits-all solution” for waste collections, he said: “The infrastructure for dealing with waste differs across the country, so do the types of homes people live in. What works in inner-city London won’t necessarily work in rural areas. This means that bin collections will inevitably be different across the country.”
TaxPayers’ Alliance policy analyst Chris Daniel told MRW: “The purpose of report was to identify the number of bins councils are expecting residents to sort their waste into, it’s not been done before.”
“Councils are trying to encourage all people to recycle – but is providing residents with nine bins really the best way to go about this? Certain councils have three bins, not to say they’re poor recyclers, but it’s about making it easy for the tax payers, for ordinary families who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.”
However, the survey’s findings have received support from local government minister Bob Neill, who said: “The bin bully approach of fining residents for minor breaches of increasingly complex bin rules is not only wrong, but it’s utterly counterproductive. Families now pay £120 a month in council tax - they deserve a decent bin collection service in return. Councils need to do more to make it easier to recycle and to collect rubbish regularly.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “We want to make it as easy as possible to recycle, but nine separate bins seems over the top. As part of the waste review, we’re looking at how we can better support authorities to provide the kind of waste services local residents want, while increasing our household recycling rates.”