Key figures in the waste industry have dismissed new suggestions that there is a link between alternate weekly collections (AWCs) and pest infestation.
A report by Ecre home insurance said that since AWCs were introduced in 2005 there had been a 23% increase in pests and vermin. It claims that this has led to an increase in wasps, squirrels, mice and rats.
Environment Minister Joan Ruddock slammed the report and said: "Local authorities are advised that alternate bin collection should only be introduced where rigid bins are in use. There are no pests I know of that can chew through a rigid bin or lift its lid.
Ecre home insurance interviewed 1,000 residents across the UK and the survey showed more than half of those who already received AWCs were angered by their councils decision to decrease their refuse collections.
Waste management firm Straight chief executive Jonathan Straight said: The research is at best inconclusive. There could be any number of reasons why the reported sightings have increased and without looking at the results in detail we could not comment further.
People expect a service from their council and if they have always had it they feel like they are losing out if this is taken away. However, by recycling as much of their waste as possible, a fortnightly collection will suffice. It is almost impossible to fill a 240-litre wheeled bin with residual waste in two weeks if all the dry recyclables and garden waste is taken out.
National Pest Technician Association chairman Barrie Sheard told MRW in February that there was no link between rat infestation and AWCs. Commenting on the Ecre report he said: It would have been nice if they [Ecre] contacted the National Pest Technician Association for our opinions but they didnt, they went out on their own. They also used a small survey sample which is not representative of residents in the UK. However, they are on the ball with the increase in insects and rats and mice as our members [pest control industry and local authorities] have recently told us but this is not solely due to AWCs. Rats only come if the bin lids are not shut properly they cannot chew lids.
Sheard also said that the main causes of rat infestations were people feeding wild birds and fly-tipped rubbish. But he did acknowledge that when the UK has a hot summer and rubbish starts to stink flies may be attracted to the bins and drop their eggs to cause an infestation.
Previous story, No link between rats and AWCs, 4 Feb 2008