Michael Gove Proposes Weekly Food Collection

The environment secretary has proposed that food waste bin collections should be changed to weekly in Britain’s next consultation on national waste.


Michael Gove has proposed that food collections become more consistent and wants millions of UK homes switch to weekly collections, in response to several councils having reduced the frequency of collections- leading to many houses having overflowing bins.


According to Gove: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste, that’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throwaway’ society and drive up domestic recycling. We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”


In this scenario, local councils would be provided more money by the government in order to have the funds to keep up with this weekly collection schedule. A lot of the collections tend to currently be conducted from private companies, and after cuts to council budgets, it would take an additional one to two weeks for many districts to adjust to this change.


The current method has yielded anger from residents. Currently, the BBC have reported a number of 1.8 million missed collection complaints since the initial reduction of collections, 4,500 per day, according to the BBC- and has increased by a third since 2014. Complaints also range from infestations of rats and insects from large amounts of rotting waste being left by binmen. The total amount across England and Wales is likely far higher, and will only continue to grow without major reconsideration.


The areas this is most common in are Surrey, Sussex and the West Midlands. Worker strikes are a reason for this, but budget cuts are the elephant in the room.


To judge how little has gone into funding waste management in recent years, you need look no further than the fall in local authorities’ spending on waste in recent years, going from £1 billion in 2010 to £888 million by 2017. Despite the rate of recycling having increased from 11% around 2000 to 45% in recent years, the amount has stayed stationary since then without any improvement.

In the campaign to increase recycling again, many authorities are putting forward a plan to tax plastics that don’t have at least 30% recycled material in them to make the packaging producers pay the full cost of the waste and avoid the currently cheaper option of using new plastics.

A deposit scheme for cans and bottles is also in the works, in which paying a small, refundable charge will allow for a simple collection of the empty container for recycling to allow the process to run far quicker and reduce the average yearly amount of 3 billion bottles being incinerated, put in landfills or simply discarded.


Germany and The Netherlands introduced a reverse vending machine which, in a similar manner, dispenses cash for empty bottles and cans. This system has led to the recycling rate increasing to 98% and 95% respectively.


On the subject of recycling, local authorities would have separate collections for food and garden wastes so the public won’t be confused about what can and can’t be recycled.


Chancellor Philip Hammond has said: “Plastic packaging makes up two-thirds of all the plastic waste that pollutes this country and wreaks havoc on our environment. It’s our responsibility to do something about it, and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material.”


All these changes will be part of the government’s next environmental bill to be introduced to the board in the second parliamentary session after Easter.


The environmental group Friends of the Earth have put forth their ideas about what changes must be made. According to their plastics campaigner Julian Kirby: “A radical overhaul of waste strategy is urgently needed to deal with our waste crisis – but this must include bold targets to substantially cut the waste that squanders precious resources, blights our environment and harms our wildlife.”


With all that in place, it can be expected that major changes, those of improvement, will occur after Easter. Fitting of that time of year, we should expect to see a slight overhaul in the country’s waste problem.


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