South East Wales

Monthly black bins collections considered in Cardiff

Ashley Govier
Image caption Ashley Govier is keeping his preferred option 'under wraps'

Black bin collections could be cut to once a month in Cardiff in a bid to to increase recycling rates and cut costs.

The Labour-run council will launch a public consultation putting forward a series of possible solutions.

These include lobbying the Welsh government for "pay as you throw" powers so those who recycle pay less.

Tories have called for privatisation and priority given to the convenience of customers, not workers. A decision is due to be made in 2014.

The waste collection questionnaire comes two years after Cardiff council introduced fortnightly residual waste and weekly food scrap collections.

Since then the city's recycling rate increased from around 50% to 52%, after climbing steadily for a number of years.

But councillor Ashley Govier, the council's cabinet member for environment, said more needed to be done.

If the council does not meet the Welsh government's recycling target of 58% by 2015, it will be fined.

Mr Govier also said the council faced a potential £50m budget cut next year and his department may have to make savings of 40%.

'Cannot be bothered'

He admitted residents would not welcome monthly black bag collections.

Mr Govier said: "I think at the moment they will find that very difficult. I think there are still some people who cannot be bothered to recycle."

Suggested solutions to cutting the amount of rubbish in black bags include:

  • Swapping black bags for clear bags to shame residents into recycling properly
  • Limiting the number of black bags that can be put out on collection day
  • Reducing the size of black wheelie bins from 240 litres to 140 litres
  • Lobbying for 'pay as you throw' powers from the Welsh government, meaning those who recycle more would pay less, and charging for black bags and wheelie bins.

Mr Govier said he had a preferred option but was "keeping it under wraps".

Image caption Residents will be asked for their views on recycling collection schemes

He also said an all-encompassing bin plan for the city was not an option because different areas have a variety of needs.

"There are some areas that are already have recycling rates of 70%, like north Cardiff, but some areas in the south are only at 20%," he added.

The council will also ask residents to give their views on possible alternative recycling collection schemes.

These include:

  • kerbside sorting, with different boxes for different materials
  • a three box system where three boxes stack together on a trolley that can be wheeled to the kerbside
  • combining paper, card, plastics and cans in one bag, but providing a separate box for glass
  • swapping green bags for green wheelie bins to protect the materials from the elements.

The Future of Waste and Recycling consultation will run for six weeks. It includes online and postal surveys and focus groups.

The findings will inform the council's next waste strategy, which is likely to be published in mid 2014.

'Maximise' return

Conservatives on the council said the authority had yet to produce figures showing whether changes in waste collection rounds had improved the service's efficiency.

Group leader David Walker said the current "job and finish" culture of the waste collection service, where staff go home after completing their round, benefited council employees rather than householders.

He said: "The whole system needs radical modernising to make it customer-centric, not employee-centric.

"They do need to see whether the private sector would do it more efficiently and at a lower cost, as many other local authorities are finding."

Fellow Tory Rod McKerlich, who sitson the environmental scrutiny committee, said: "Instead of regarding waste as something to be despised and got rid of, Cardiff council should be maximising the return it gets on it."

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