At DEFRA questions yesterday Macclesfield’s Sir Nicholas Winterton was rightly troubled about the infrequent collection of rubbish:
"I am concerned about the service that local authorities give to residents. Increasingly, under councils of every political colour, there is anger and criticism about how local authorities are operating refuse collection, not least regarding the move from a once-a-week to a fortnightly collection. In many cases, the size of wheelie bins has been reduced. When will local authorities take account of the interests of those paying them their wages rather than seek to meet—I say this although I do support recycling—some unacceptable regulations, many of which come from Europe?
Jane Kennedy: It is obviously a matter for local authorities to determine how local household waste is managed, how it is collected and how much recycling is performed. I have already described the improvements across England in respect of the proportion of household waste recycled. If the hon. Gentleman’s local authority is behaving in a way that he disapproves of, let me tell him that in my experience, because of the importance to every household of dealing with waste, this is one of the most highly political issues. It is therefore very important for local authorities to be aware of what their communities are saying."
I agree with Sir Nicholas wholeheartedly. Recycling can be a very good thing, but some waste has to be disposed of differently, and it is not hygenic for rubbish to sit in a bin for nearly two weeks. There are times when I wonder what I pay my council tax for. I wouldn’t be sorry to see a central directive that bins had to be collected on a weekly basis.
Nick Herbert, the new Shadow Secretary of State, pressed the Government on landfill:
"The Minister told me this week that in all but two English regions, landfill capacity would run out in less than seven years’ time. We urgently need a better strategy to increase recycling rates further and develop markets to use waste as a resource for materials and energy in particular. Last month, however, the National Audit Office said that DEFRA had responded too slowly to the landfill directive, with the result that waste infrastructure projects were being delayed. Can the Minister explain why a Department that is meant to be leading on environmental protection takes years to act?
Jane Kennedy: As I said earlier, the recycling rate in England was 7.5 per cent. in 1997 and is now 34.5 per cent. A huge amount of work has been done. We expect the combined impact of our policies in the waste strategy that I described earlier to be a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of at least 9.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2020 as a result of waste management. What would be the impact on targets of that nature of the cuts that the hon. Gentleman would be forced to make in any departmental programme of this kind? When in government one makes decisions that have a big impact, and the decisions that we have made have brought about a sea change in household attitudes to recycling."
What would you do to improve the disposal of rubbish? (No jokes about getting rid of the Government!)