Could you manage with a MONTHLY landfill collection?

Filed in Blog by on September 24, 2015 18 Comments
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fife council offering monthly landfill collectionsHere in the Forest of Dean we have reasonably good kerbside collections:

Once a fortnight landfill waste is collected along with with dry recycling (paper, glass, tins, aerosols and domestic batteries).

The other fortnight we have garden waste collection – for which we pay £28 per bin per year.

Each week we have food waste collections.

Recently we were told there MIGHT be a switch to three-weekly landfill collections and an increase in recyclables collected from homes. My memory is hazy as to WHAT exactly they might collect but I seem to remember it wasn’t anything that would make much of an impact on our bin. I don’t think plastic bottles or Tetra Pak cartons was on there, for example – and as these are full of air unless you compact them, they can take up considerable space.

The one bin family?

While we have been dubbed ‘the one bin family’ the reality is, that was back in 2010. Now we’re more of a ‘one bin a fortnight’ family – probably much like any other household in our area.

So three weekly collections, yes we could do it, but it would be difficult.

Change of habits

We’d probably have to change our shopping habits again, we’d need to police the bin from our unruly teen – who prefers the convenience of a black bag, rather than sorting recycling – and it would require more time and thought. I admit we’ve got a bit lazy of the past few years. Convenience meals have crept back in, online supermarket deliveries means vegetables are no longer naked and a busy lifestyle means I’m throwing out far more stuff than I should.

Up in Fife, they’re starting an ambitious trial.

The Telegraph say “The pilot scheme will see 2,000 houses have waste collected every four weeks, with another 2,000 having general rubbish picked up every three weeks. Collections of recycled waste will be increased for the duration of the trial which is expected to last at least nine months. ”

Every FOUR weeks?

Wow, even we would find that hard in the winter months.

Monthly bin collections

We get as much wood as we can for hot water and heating, but we still have to burn coal. And it produces a LOT of ash. There’s only so much you can dig into the garden, make paths from or stuff under the hedge.

We also have two kittens who are currently using a litter tray. I expect this to change as they grow up, but for the foreseeable future I’m back to litter trays and waste. One of them is ill and on medication – there’s lots of plastic and syringes to dispose of…

Increased kerbside collections

According to Fife Council website, households on the pilot trial will have the following collections:

Landfill waste every 4 weeks

Plastic and cans every fortnight (including plastic bottles, tubs, food trays, polystyrene food containers and plastic food wrapping such as pasta bags. The only exception is clingfilm)

Paper and cardboard every 4 weeks (including Tetra Pak cartons)

Food and garden waste every fortnight March to Nov and every 4 weeks Dec to Feb.

How low can you go?

Now I’ve seen what they can recycle I reckon I could definitely manage a once-monthly landfill collection. Would it be easy? No, not at all. It would require foresight, planning, care and thought. But I’d say with those sort of kerbside facilities it is doable. And don’t we owe it to our grandchildren / wallets / environment to put some care and thought into the disposal of things we no longer want?

The reason for this trial is that Fife council believe, that although recycling rates are good, there is still 50% of the contents of the average landfill bin that could be recycled at kerbside.

Join in the discussion

Mr G will be talking to Anna and Tony at BBC Five Live on the Drive Show at 6:30 later tonight. It should be a lively conversation with a representative of Fife council and a journalist, who, apparently, throws everything away!

What about you – be honest; could you manage with a once-a-month landfill collection?

fife once a month landfill collections

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Yes, it’s do-able, especially for those who are out all day, eating at work and generally have a lite load on waste production.

    My concern is for the busy mum at home, 2-3 children in nappies. Maybe has pet liiter to deal with and heats the home with coal fire or wood. She’s already under pressure to get meals on the table and look after her household.

    I doubt that they will manage easily. When we run our wood burner during the cold winter months, we produce 20kg of ash and clinker in 2 weeks. That’s nearly a third of a wheely bin. Not even accounting for any other residual waste.

    My guess is that the responsible resident will have to use the local bring banks collection points to relieve the extra recycling and landfill waste.

    Some people just won’t manage it. The question is just how many that is and what they will do to resolve this challenge?

  2. Flo says:

    We are slightly different here. We only have two/three bins – household waste and recycling with the garden waste bin if you pay for it.

    Could I do landfill waste once a month? Well if it gets too full then there’s the village litter bins – but these would get very full if we all did the same. I’d have to ask for a family bin I think rather than the small size I use at present. Our garden bins don’t take food waste.

    We can’t recycle food trays or polystyrene food containers here. Tetra paks have to go to a recycling point which is near one of the bottle banks. For me, that’s a bus ride away and I’d need to organise space to collect such things.

    I’d have to do a lot of rethinking and retraining.

  3. Philippa says:

    Yes, easily do-able – if as they seem to have (and as we have) you can recycle all your plastic tubs and plastic bottles – and also tetrapaks.

    People still don’t get enough information. Wheelie bins don’t do the recycling for you! Councils are being conned. They just aren’t the answer to everything – they are too tall and too big for many homes. That is why there are Councils returning to separate collections. It is information and education which is key – and making sure that the amount of and style of packaging is AND remains minimal.

    Not buying more than you need and understanding Best Before and Use By (which still isn’t understood). I rescued a whole loaf of bread (in a plastic bag) the other day from the bin. Dumped simply because it had passed its BB date. (I bought it and knew where it had been.) We’ve been eating it all week. Perfectly fine. I really miss that part of your blog!

  4. Philippa says:

    BTW we have a weekly food waste collection – WHICH WE USE! Although we often don’t put that out weekly – we have been known to go for a month without putting it out. We just don’t waste much if any food if possible. Thanks to your blog we can buy meat from the butcher in our own plastic box and just the amount we want and how we want it. We can also use a compostable bag (seedling logo) in the summer if we are worried – or freeze something eg prawn heads until we want to put the bucket out. We now know which vegetables smell really bad when rotten!

    Our food waste is collected for Anaerobic Digestion. I would hate to have a garden and food waste collection. We live in a city and we have little garden waste and tend to just do that a couple of times a year. We don’t have room and don’t want a wheelie bin hanging around for that. I presume the Fife collection goes to In Vessel Composting since it is collected with garden waste.

    Lovely video here:

    I’m hoping to go back to the wormery and composting later in the year when life settles down a bit.

  5. Rusty says:

    That’s a lot of bins and very complicated collection arrangement isn’t it? How do flats manage with FOUR wheelie bins? Two is bad enough. We don’t fill either our recycling (paper, card, glass and plastic including tetra pack) or rubbish bins collected every other week, so I think we could squeeze another week out of them, two would be more challenging. I do make efforts not to purchase packaged goods, although I could do more. I have two teenagers at home so there are four of us, plus cat and dog. Most of our rubbish is plastic wrappers and the odd polystyrene tray (which I really hate) we rarely throw food away – we don’t eat much meat and have a compost bin for veggie waste and peelings. Our food waste bin goes out about twice a year, I freeze it till we have enough! I wish we had a better market nearby for fresh food, that would considerably cut down both my recyclable and non-recyclable waste. Oh and a bulk dry goods store, like they have in the US, where you could take your own containers.

  6. Heather A says:

    I think we could manage on monthly landfill collections. We’re a family of four and although our landfill collection is collected every week, I only put it out every fortnight. Most of the time our slim wheelie bin (not family sized) is only half full. If all food waste is collected separately along with all types of plastic and other recyclables, then I think monthly collection is definitely achievable and I hope this trial is a success.

  7. Sandy says:

    Yes it’s doable, for us, as we are at home with time to shop and choose non packaged goods, to go to different shops etc, etc but for a family who have parents that work pretty hard I think, by the way we have a small landfill bin and have to take our tetra packs and plastic bags (we don’t have any plastic bags) and wraps to a recycling yard,

  8. Linda says:

    We are only a couple with no pets or open fire but I could easily wait 4 weeks for a landfill collection. I only put the bin out every 4 weeks now and it’s not full by any means. If our council collected plastic trays and yogurt pots there would be hardly anything left. Clear plastic trays are taken by my daughter as her council collects them. Biscuit wrappers and cleaning product spray tops go directly to Terracycle to raise money for charity. Coffee packaging and used pens are save until we are passing a charity that is registered as a drop off point with Terracycle. Kitchen waste goes in the compost bin.

  9. In Fife It looks like people who have plastic recycling will find it easier than those that don’t as in other regions. The majority of packaging is plastic and if you try to choose cardboard and cartons instead of glass, you can get all this collected from the kerbside. In addition, the glass you collect, can easily be rinsed and stored for the collection points without creating a health hazard.

    I think for many people with a bit of good will and ‘trying and make it work’ as opposed to reacting against the change, it will be a success.

    As always there are winners and losers. My sympathy goes to parents with young children who are using disposable nappies. After a month of those in the bin, even the neighbours will be holding their nose. Cloth nappies are a great alternative, but it will mean a big change in routine, plus the cost of stocking up in the first place.

    Good luck to you all… let us know how it goes.

    • Philippa says:

      I agree that disposable nappies – both for babies/children and adults – could be a problem. It is interesting that some Councils have a special collection for adult ones but then I suppose that is because they are likely to get other paraphernalia like used catheter bags in that bin as well.

      I wonder if Fife is promoting alternatives to disposable nappies. I presume they are. There are more choices than just the terry towelling ones nowadays. In the past dungarees used to have to be a larger size for terry-towelled bottoms. It would (and probably is) now possible to take a more flexible approach and not have to choose between them.

      I see that there is a firm that recycles disposables. How though can they set up a collection unless it is from Care Homes?

  10. jadwriter says:

    We don’t have a food waste/garden waste bin here at all. My mum buys a roll of bags from either the library or garden centre, then when she has lots filled up with garden waste, she phones the council to arrange a collection date. So we only have a black and green bin. I don’t know if we could have a 4-weekly landfill collection as the bin gets smelly anyway. Think we’d have to put more thought into what we throw away.

  11. Solveig says:

    Here in Germany we have just the model Fife is suggesting. That means you can choose between landfill collection twice a month or once a month. We personally have no bin for compostables and our landfill bin is collected once a month and is nearly alwyas half empty. But then we use oil for heating. The recyclable material is collected once a month, which for many people is scarce, but for us it’s fine as well..We try to avoid waste wherever we can, so the recycling sack is often only filled to 2/3rds for three people in one month.

  12. giftedlyn53 says:

    Had to laugh – here am I trying to reduce how much goes in to our green recycling bin and our local council is encouraging people to put more in it by offering a £30 prize.

    • Philippa says:

      I agree gifted lyn that can be a bit miffing because you could (as could many others who have been working to reduce waste for some time) have probably won that years ago. Just take pride that you are ahead of the game right now and you won’t be stressed about bin space and collection.

      Without choosing less and different packaging and complaining about too much packaging there will never be a sensible amount and progress in improving and reducing it.

  13. Mandy B says:

    I live in the United States. My small town does not have recycling services included in our trash pickup so I pay for it out of my own pocket. $50 per year and it is picked up once per week. Our recycling bin is usually full. We can burn in our area (we have a burn barrel) and we have a compost bin. Between changing our shopping habits, recycling and burning we only, usually, have two bags of trash per week (1 trash and 1 bag of used cat litter). We only burn what cannot be recycled, reused, or composted. Items that would emit toxic chemicals if burned get put into the trash. We could easily go once per month with trash collection, my neighbors could not. They have at least 2 trash bins per week and extras lying on the ground by their bins.

    • Mandy B says:

      I failed to mention our “trash” bag is a small plastic grocery bag or other small bag, not the large kitchen garbage bags you purchase in the store. I reuse the bags that toilet paper come in or other large plastic bags. I also save the occasional plastic grocery sack that sneaks into the home.

  14. Cherie says:

    We only put our ‘landfill bin’ out once every three weeks or so. I teach people how to ‘craft the junk’. Pretty much everything can be used as a resource.

  15. Philippa says:

    What do other countries do about disposable nappies – adults’ and children’s? We have an increasing number of elderly people in their 90s now leaving hospital catheterised and/or using pads. This used to be called clinical waste but now seems to be just collected as black bag waste and becomes another burden added to Councils’ waste collection bills. Two weeks’ worth is not good news especially when placed in a wheelie bin inches from front doors and front windows. It should be labelled hazardous waste!

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