Plans for three-weekly bin collections tossed out

North Somerset recycling and waste bins NSC

Bin collections will not be going three-weekly in North Somerset - Credit: North Somerset Council

Plans to trial three-weekly bin collections in North Somerset have been put on ice despite public support. 

North Somerset Council (NSC) hailed the move as a way to cut costs and tackle the climate emergency but deputy leader Mike Bell said it was not the right time after "significant changes". 

The reduced collections had been set to be rolled out in parts of the district by the end of 2024 after success elsewhere in Somerset increased recycling rates and saved authorities £1.7 million. 

NSC originally included the idea in its waste strategy, saying: "A delay each year could result in 13,500 tonnes of recycling being disposed of through general waste. By diverting recyclable material from residual disposal, we could prevent 2,700 tonnes of CO2e entering the environment a year." 

More than 1,500 people commented on the waste strategy in a consultation last summer. 

Public opinion on having their 180-litre black bins emptied every three weeks was split, with 47 per cent of people on the fence, 39 per cent saying it was the most acceptable option and 14 per cent saying it was the least acceptable. 

Two-thirds of residents opposed having a bigger black bin collected once a month, with more than 400 concerned about smells, hygiene issues and rats. 

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The most acceptable option was having a smaller black bin emptied once a fortnight. 

However, proposing an amendment to the waste strategy, Cllr Bell told his executive colleagues on February 2 it was 'not the time' for more change.

"This is a moment where we’ve had significant changes in our waste and recycling service over the last couple of years – we've brought it in-house recently, we've obviously delivered the new garden waste service and there will be further changes as proposed as part of this waste strategy," he said. 

"Now is not the time for further consideration of changes to frequencies or collection regimes." 

He said the proposal would not 'set a path for the long term' but was opposed by Cllr Karin Haverson, who said the council needed to take 'every little step' to reduce its carbon footprint and many other authorities had had success. 

She said: "There are always detailed issues with people with nappies or other incontinence problems or other other flat issues, but all these councils have found solutions. 

"It's not insurmountable and I just think this would be showing that we take our climate emergency declaration seriously." 

Her Green colleague, Cllr Bridget Petty, the executive member for the climate emergency, agreed: "We must also be able to see the bigger picture when it comes to decisions on climate and sustainability issues.  

"Looking at each decision individually there will always be a reason not to do things, be that cost, popularity or significance of impact, but nationally and locally we need to change almost everything to meet our net zero targets. 

"We cannot water down our policies simply because human nature is to resist change. Change can be difficult but the rewards can be great."

Cllr Mike Solomon, the executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said some trials of three-weekly collections had failed, and there was an important role in educating residents. 

The executive adopted the amended waste strategy. 

It says that by 2030 the council wants to hit a recycling rate of 70 per cent, up from around 60 per cent now, and to divert all non-recycling household waste away from landfill by the end of this year. 

It plans to increase education and enforcement to drive down littering and flytipping and improve the appearance of North Somerset’s streets and open spaces. 

The commercial waste service will be expanded to serve more businesses, schools and events. 

Recycling facilities in all blocks of flats will also be reviewed and updated.