With news that local authorities in Wales are considering plans to collect domestic waste just once every four weeks, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has urged caution and asked for decision makers to consider the implications.
Under European Union targets the United Kingdom must recycle at least half of all household waste by 2020. The UK is currently set to miss this target. Although the recycling rate in the UK was just 11% in 2000, the current recycling rate has stalled at 44% for a number of years.
Some local authorities, in an attempt to increase recycling rates, are reducing the frequency of residual waste collections. It has been claimed that this will generate savings at a time when many are struggling to balance their books.
Although three weekly residual waste collections are not uncommon, it now appears that there may be moves towards four weekly collections by some local authorities.
Director of CIEH Wales, Kate Thompson, said:
“As an organisation we are committed to protecting the environment and to reducing, reusing, and recycling waste and materials.
While we appreciate that four weekly residual waste collections have the potential to increase recycling rates and reduce costs, we have concerns about the potential unintended consequences and the risks these pose to the environment and health.
There is a significant risk of increased fly-tipping as people struggle to fit four weeks' worth of waste into one wheelie bin. Any missed collections will mean a staggering eight week wait between bin collections; an unsustainable situation for large families. There is also the risk to our wildlife and environment from uncollected waste, especially in warmer weather, coming from pests and insects.
We urge local authorities to consider these wider impacts in their decision making.
While we absolutely support the need to encourage increased rates of recycling, the questions posed by monthly collections suggest that this simply isn’t the answer.”
Notes to editors
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About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):
CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing more than 8,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved.
Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.