Ministers want to introduce new measures to standardise waste collection in England from 2023 in a bid to boost recycling rates as part of its proposed Environment Bill. Households could be lumbered with four bins for dry recyclables – such as glass, metal, plastic, paper and card – as well as containers for non-recyclable materials, garden waste and food waste.
The government is also pushing for food waste to be collected separately and on a weekly basis as part of the shake-up, Manchester Evening News reports. This could amount to seven different bins per household.
And Greater Manchester’s waste and recycling committee fear the proposals will lead to “streets full of bins” and clutter that could block pavements for people with mobility issues.
Allan Quinn, a Labour councillor for Bury, told the waste and recycling committee on July 13: “I think we’re paying the price for being 20 years ahead of the game.
“We’ve got a system that works, and if it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it. Residents will go mad over this.”
He and other councillors believe The Greater Manchester Combined Authority should keep its four-bin system instead.
They argue terraced houses and apartment blocks may not be able to accommodate the new bins and the extra lorries needed to collect them will cause congestion and an increase in vehicle emissions.
Concerns have also been raised about there being a lack of drivers to man the bin lorries.
Stephen Adshead, a Labour councillor for Trafford, said he lived in a terraced area and current collection days “can be mayhem” already.
“There’s a big case for residents that they want less bins, not more bins,” he told the commitee.
“If we survey residents and get some feedback, I think they’ll want less bins and they’d be horrified by the prospect of having more, and the more confusing it’s going to get.”
Roy Driver, who represents Labour in Stockport, raised concerns about the proposed new bins blocking off roads, pavements and driveways, and the potential knock-on effect on vulnerable people.
He said: “One of the problems apart from storage with most bin collections is street clutter.
“Blind people struggle to get past, as well as people with mobility problems and womens with buggies. If we have more bins this problem will be exacerbated.”
Conservative councillor Adele Warren said that she could see the merits in weekly food collections even if it will be “incredibly challenging”.
Local authorities in Greater Manchester are striving towards carbon neutrality by 2038, she said, and that it could lead to more food waste being turned into biogas – a type of renewable energy – to help towards that goal.
Cllr Warren added: “Even though I can see why we’re pushing against it, I can see why the government is asking for it as well.”
The government is expected to respond to local authorities in the autumn, with further consultation on statutory guidance and minimum service standards expected in 2022.
According to the District Councils’ Network, which represents 183 local authorities in England, the government’s proposals could cost up to £680m a year.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said that where it is not practical to have seven bins, local authorities may collect recyclable waste from two or more waste streams together.
A spokesperson said in June: “We are going further and faster to recycle more of our waste to protect the environment – less than 10 per cent of household waste is now going to landfill and the amount of food waste being recycled is up by over 40 per cent since 2015.
“But we must do more, and through our major reforms of kerbside collections we will boost recycling levels and step up our war on plastic pollution – while our proposed weekly food waste collections will maximise recycling and stop the build-up of smelly waste around homes.”