Scrap weekly bin collections to increase recycling, say officials – but first come the politics

Posted By on 21st July 2017

21st July 2017

By Graham Smith

Weekly dustbin collections in Cornwall could be scrapped – becoming only once a fortnight – if councillors decide to embark on a crusade to drive up recycling rates.

Cornwall Council’s cabinet is about to start the process of drawing up a new waste collection contract, when the current deal comes to an end in 2020.

Among the options under consideration are proposals to empty dustbins only once a fortnight.  Another option is to collect recycling materials once a week, but officials warn this would be very expensive.

Currently only 35.7% of waste in Cornwall is recycled. This compares to an average 43.9% nationally and with a target of reaching 50% by 2020.  At the moment Cornwall gets a weekly black bag rubbish collection, and a fortnightly recycling collection.  Households have to sort their recyclable waste into separate bags and containers.

Officials have now prepared several options for elected councillors to consider – these include keeping the current arrangements.  This would cost an additional £1 million a year. Another option is to have fortnightly collections of both black bag waste and recyclables on alternate weeks. This could cost between £500,000 and £1.5 million.

Yet another option includes providing wheelie bins for all their recyclable waste, without having to separate it. But this would cost an additional £9 million a year.

A report to the council's Cabinet, which meets next week, says: "There is a weekly residual waste collection there is still an 'easy' option for households not to take part in recycling at home and instead put materials into black bags. This restricts the ability to raise recycling levels as there is no imperative to recycle.


"With an estimated one third of households in Cornwall still not recycling, an estimated 45,000-50,000 tonnes of food waste being disposed of and some uncertainty over what materials can be recycled there is still potential for improvement within existing services and contracts."

A previous suggestion of scrapping weekly bin collections, several years ago, was dropped after fierce protests.