Due to Coronavirus staff shortages NHDC has taken the decision to suspend food waste collections and the garden waste service. Over a two week period we used to have five separate collections from our properties and this is now reduced to two.
If an alternative solution had been proposed of a three weekly service on all bin types would this have been preferred? Many of us I suspect have space in our bins to go three or even four weeks before collections, and if we squash packaging a bit more before it goes in the bin we could make better use of our bin space. We know there are councils who have successfully introduced three weekly bin collections and have identified a number of economic and environmental benefits (https://www.recyclingwasteworld.co.uk/in-depth-article/ricardo-weigh-in-on-three-weekly-collections/157549/).
At the recent NHDC environmental panels Transition Town Letchworth (TTL) made the point that if we are to repair our climate we have to build a more circular economy, eliminating non-recyclable waste, and that requires steps to be taken to discourage non-recyclable waste. It has been a while since we switched to a large recycling bin and the smaller 180 litre bin for non-recyclables. TTLs suggestion was that a good first step, that would both save council costs and repair the climate, would be to widen the time between bin collections. If we could do this to address the current staffing shortages, and continue with the regime going forward, it would help with climate repair and allow better use of our council taxes.
Councillors may be concerned that if people are not supportive this decision will affect their electoral chances. So, if you agree that widening bin collections would be a positive step towards climate repair, let your local councillor know.
In the meantime now seems a good time to explore home composting. You could invest in a compost bin or wormery, but you may also want to consider trench and pit composting, techniques that do not require a compost bin just a bit of garden space. An added bonus of home composting is, that whichever technique you choose, you should improve your garden’s soil. If we reduce the volume of garden waste moved on refuse lorries that is then returned in plastic bags as compost, by increasing home composting, that would be a climate repair win from this current crisis. The NHDC website has lots of good advice on what can and cannot be home composted.
Now may be the time for councillors to review their waste strategy. Moving to a three week bin collection could help to address current service difficulties whilst bringing environmental benefits and reducing the councils waste expenditure going forward.