Azara Blog: Fortnightly rubbish collections allegedly increases recycling

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Date published: 2007/04/25

The BBC says:

Councils that have switched from weekly to fortnightly rubbish collections achieve higher recycling rates, a study has suggested.

It shows an average recycling rate of 30% for these councils, compared with 23% for those that had not switched.

The Local Government Association (LGA) study found some had already exceeded their targets for 2010.

But fortnightly collections have been criticised, with complaints about bad smells, maggots and vermin.
...
The LGA, which represents local councils in England, said such an increase in recycling across the country would save taxpayers about £22m a year in taxes on landfill.
...
More than a third of councils in England have now abandoned weekly collections of rubbish, amid increasing pressure to dump less waste in landfills.

Some campaigners have claimed some councils made the switch at the same time as the introduction of recycling schemes, hence the increase in recycling figures.

Local authorities that have switched to fortnightly collections tend to alternate the collection of general refuse with that of recyclables such as paper or garden waste.

Fortnightly rubbish collections probably help the recycling rate, but introducing, or adding to, recycling options also obviously plays a factor. But it doesn't matter one way or the other. What matters is whether recycling really is the environmentally wonderful option (compared with landfill) that its promoters claim (without offering any proof). And also whether the downside of fortnightly rubbish collections (increased vermin and dumping of waste on the streets) outweighs the alleged benefit.

And by recycling more, the country does not "save taxpayers about £22m a year in taxes", it just saves that much in landfill taxes. Tax is a zero sum game (well, usually a negative sum game because the government takes more and more tax every year). What the country pays less in one tax, it ends up paying more in another tax. Of course the EU has set some arbitrary recycling rates, and if the UK fails to meet those targets then the country might end up paying a fine (i.e. a tax) to Brussels. That would not be good.

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