Switching from weekly to fortnightly waste collections would not pose any increased risk to health nor cause a greater nuisance to householders, according to a report commissioned by an industry body and Government advisers.
The idea of alternate weekly waste collections, with recyclables being picked up one week and residual waste the next, has obvious appeal in that it tends to make the job easier while boosting recycling rates.
In many areas residents have balked at the idea, however, claiming that storing rotting waste for two weeks would provide a breeding ground for rats and disease.
The government-funded Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) teamed up with industry body the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) to commission research into the health risks associated with waste collection, focusing on changes in collection frequency.
Reviewing over 150 existing papers, the study found "no evidence of actual harm to householders and waste collectors or of any increased health risks or nuisance for householders that could not be dealt with by existing good practice advice for councils."
Phillip Ward, director of local government services at WRAP, said it is important for local authorities to ensure the public is kept informed on how to store waste between collections.
"Whatever the collection system, it needs to be well designed and appropriate for the local area," he said.
"Particularly in the warmer summer months, it is important that councils remind householders how to keep waste collections safe. This advice could include not keeping food waste in the house for long periods and wrapping it before putting it in the bin."
The full report can be found at www.wrap.org.uk/healtheffectsstudy.
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