Greenwich Council look to consult on fortnightly bin collections

A report before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet next week suggests consulting into moving weekly bin collections to fortnightly.

The report states that 67 of the 391 local authorities in the UK collect general waste weekly. And in the capital “14 Authorities have transitioned to fortnightly
general waste collection, along with Hackney currently undertaking a
consultation and Enfield set to change in February 2020”.

New flats beside Woolwich Centre

Bexley dropped weekly collections years ago. London will see a recycling rate target of 50 per cent by 2025 and the authority sees a forthcoming struggle to reach that. The report states an increase in new flats poses a challenge as recycling rates are lower in buildings with communal bins.

Three options are on the cards:

“Option 1:

Residents are provided with 240L wheelie bins for the
collection of general waste (black top), mixed recycling (blue top) and food
and garden waste (green top). The blue and green top bins would be
emptied weekly and the black top bin would be emptied every fortnight.

This change in service would cost c.£470k to implement. The increase in
the recycling rate would be c.5% and annual savings of c.£460k could be

This collection model would reduce the Council’s number of HGV refuse
collection vehicle movements, resulting in a positive improvement to local
air quality.

Option 2:

Residents are provided with a 140L bin for general waste and
continue to use 240L bins for mixed recycling and food and garden waste,
all waste types are collected every week.

This model has a high implementation cost of c.£1.3 million due to bin
procurement costs (a 140L bin for the majority of kerbside households in
the borough). The recycling rate would increase by c.2.5% and annual
savings of c.£150k could be achieved.

This model does not reduce the number of vehicles required to run the
service, therefore does not makes a positive impact to air quality.

Option 3:

Residents are provided with a 140L bin for general waste and
continue to use 240L bins for mixed recycling and food and garden waste.
The general waste collection frequency is reduced to every other week.

This model has a high implementation cost of c.£1.3 million due to bin
procurement costs (a 140L bin for the majority of kerbside households in
the borough). The recycling rate would increase by c.7% and annual
savings of c.£620k could be achieved.

This collection model would reduce the Council’s number of HGV refuse
collection vehicle movements, resulting in a positive improvement to local
air quality.”

Contaminated bins

Another change proposed is no longer collecting bins identified with red tags on the same day. People will be responsible for “ensuring that their bin contains only good quality recycling for the Council to empty it on the following collection day”.

People could pay to have the bin collected before the following scheduled collection two weeks later.

Free clear plastic sacks could be ditched. The council report states: “the sacks are
an unnecessary use of single use plastic and cost the Council c.£80k per year to purchase and distribute. It is proposed to limit the distribution to only residents who cannot store a wheelie bin for recycling, for example flats above commercial premises”.

Garden waste charges

Garden waste and food waste are currently collected free of charge This would change under plans if approved. Food waste would be collected in a kerbside container.

Garden waste collections would be charged on a subscription basis.

In the words of the report: “Asking the householder to place their food and garden waste in separate bins allows local authorities to charge for the garden waste service”.

Climate Emergency

The council highlights the recently adopted climate emergency motion as a reason for action. This is likely to prove contentious, as the authority initially resisted adopting a motion on the matter.

They’ve also supported the Silvertown Tunnel for years until a last-minute letter to Sadiq Khan asking for a pause, and as this site frequently covers, spend very little income on improving public spaces, streets and parks from developer income to entice people away from cars towards walking, cycling and healthier lifestyles.

If people see reduced services (albeit for a good cause) and increased charges as being related to the climate emergency tag, resentment towards green causes could increase. If parks and towns were improved across the borough resistance may be lessened.

Greenwich Council’s Cabinet will decide on the next steps next week.

UPDATE: One concern expressed by some is the rise in HMOs and how that impacts upon collection with family homes divided into bedsits and ensuing waste.

Greenwich Council have adopted a licensing scheme for HMOs but far less Homes of Multiple Occupation have so far registered than expected.

The problem with registrations (and ensuing income) is also with a limited licensing scheme as non-HMO private lettings are not included. Both Bexley Council and Lewisham Council are going further with licensing private rented properties.





Running a site alone takes time and a fair bit of money. Adverts are far from enough to cover it and my living costs as a private renter.

You can support me including via Paypal here

Another option is via Patreon by clicking here

You can also buy me a beer/coffee at Ko-fi here

There's also a Facebook page for the site here

Many thanks

J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    26 thoughts on “Greenwich Council look to consult on fortnightly bin collections

    • Very interesting post.

      This proposal is alarming if implemented:

      “People could pay to have the bin collected before the following scheduled collection two weeks later.”

      Far too many people just wouldn’t bother to pay and that would result in overfilling bins or people dumping their rubbish in neighbouring or street bins thereby attracting vermin.

      If the property is a HMO with a rogue landlord then you can be sure they wouldn’t give a toss and the urban environment suffers.

      It’s like the fly tippers who dump their rubbish anywhere knowing they’ll never get charged/prosecuted and that the council will pick-up the mess.

      Even now, with weekly collections, I see bins left outside overfilled with waste that has then sprawled across the street because of foxes.

      I know air quality is important, but I don’t feel the number of bin lorries is an important contributor to local pollution – quite the opposite in fact.

      • Yep Greenwich have a very poor record for fines when it comes to litter and flytipping. Will have to dig out the numbers. Last time I checked they were not good.

      • I agree with everything above. My situation is one of living above commercial premises, a parade of 17 shops, with tenants sharing 5-large paladin (communal general waste bins, plus 2-paladin blue-top recycling. Currently all these bins are already full to overflowing on the weekly collection day. There are no tops to the general waste paladin bins as some residents would find these too large/ heavy to lift open. Subsequently, squirrels & crows already get at the rubbish which gets strewn about somewhat. If ever the paladin bins are not collected on the usual day, the household rubbish overflows, piles up onto the ground & ripped open by animals or spread about due to residents not securing rubbish sacks properly. In summertime the situation becomes a H&S issue very quickly. I foresee a disaster with this scheme operating here.

    • Greenwich Borough’s refuse collections are the envy of other boroughs. They keep roads clear of rubbish and respond quickly to reports of missed collections and illicit dumping. Lewisham and Bexley have reduced their bin collections and have suffered an increase in fly-tipping. I am sure a reduction in collections will increase the use of smelly bonfires and general dumping on waste ground. This obviously has not been thought through as the cost of implementation exceeds the possible savings given the figures above, The reduction of vehicles does not factor in the possibility of private firms taking advantage of the situation and making many more polluting journeys. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. leave the bin collections as they are.

    • Kidbrooke/Blackheath

      Greenwich is taking the opportunity from the alarming environmental propaganda to increase the bill and make profit on it. We pay a council tax and this should be covering all the cost of our waste. I believe Greenwich should be improving in punish the fly-tipping in the first place not finding excuse to charge more the general public. The collector vehicles does not have any impact or little impact the air quality, if does, we are very happy to see the prove of it.

      The result of any of those proposals, will be the number of rats, illegal dumping and bad smell everywhere.

    • Very alarming development that would result in a negative improvement to local air quality, especially in the summer. General waste bins in my experience filled up quicker than the others, usually black bin will be full in a week. Changing 240L bin to 140L not necessarily reduce amount of rubbish and the rest will be placed into black bags on the side of sometime narrow roads for another week, some will be torn up and rubbish end up all over local roads.

      It seems like general idea behind this “improvement to local air quality” is a bit of waste collection cost-cutting and to introduce charges for general waste collection before the scheduled collection, also perhaps Introducing future subscription service for garden waste recycling and collecting food waste.

    • Climate change indeed. If people exercised a little self control and awareness the black bin would be empty of all but the most intractable of packaging (and soiled nappies). Why should I pay for the spike in emissions generated every time one worthless celebrity ‘throws shade’ at another on Twitter?

    • This is such a bad idea. The weekly collection isnt even enough for some people. I’ve seen my neighbours putting their rubbish in my bin because their bin is full. I cant even imagine the smell, animals and fly tipping that will result from this as well as the bin wars due to lack of space if collections were fortnightly. If they want to incentivise recycling they should provide perks like vouchers or money towards a charity of your choice like Hackney did in its early recycling days.
      I hardly think a little bin truck going around the borough fortnightly rather than weekly would make that big of an impact on the carbon footprint. I fear the council will go ahead with the proposal anyways to make savings under the guise of protecting the planet.
      I am also concerned that people will get repremanded for contamination of recyclables when its actually members of the public that come along and put something non recyclable in your blue bin. So your collection won’t be taken through no fault of your own. How will these kinds of issues be policed?
      I also hate the line of reasoning ‘other councils are doing this so we should too’ its such a flawed argument. So what? Maybe what we have is better and should set the example. Its this kind of decision making that really brings the council down and creates animosity between the council and residents.
      Can a consultation such as this even be made during the pre election period/purdah? The cabinet report says consultation to commence late Nov. Overall if this happens I’m going to need more bins because my small blue bin will not be able to cope with fortnightly collections and I actually recycle 80% of my waste.

    • Austerity now comes disguised as environmentalism.

      Based on the already appalling conditions in West Greenwich, this can only make the situation far worse. The streets here are fetid with discarded litter and fly tipping which lies untouched for weeks upon end.

      We regularly observe garden maintenance and building companies sliding-in under cover of night to fly-tip their waste in both council rubbish hoppers, litter bins, or just on the street – resulting in overflowing mountains of household waste. Nearby, in Greenwich town centre, there’s an abandoned cooker or fridge freezer on every other corner.

      As a bitter contrast, whenever we walk down one of streets in the same area where the Local MP or Councillors live (for instance, the Ashburnham triangle) the streets are praeternaturally spotless.

    • If air pollution is the concern then the refuse collection fleet could be converted to run on 100% bio-fuel, the costs wouldn’t be that great. And then at fleet renewal the new wave of electric vehicles could be purchased as range is not an issue for street collections.

      Greenwich borough often resembles a landfill, however, credit where it’s due I often use the ‘fixmystreet’ site and fly-tipping is cleared quite promptly in my experience. Fortnightly collections, or a garden waste charge (on top of the tax we already pay) will only make the fly-tipping situation worse.

    • This is just another attempt by Greenwich Council to bring in more cuts under the rouse of it being on the grounds of environmental issues.

      We pay Council Tax for our wheelie bins to be emptied weekly and weekly collections they must remain. Otherwise we will see rubbished dumped everywhere neighbours dumping rubbish in other neighbours bins.

      More importantly we will see a major increase in vermin and in particular rats which can have a serious risk to peoples health, Restaurants and shops etc will have rubbished piled up outside again encouraging vermin and rats.

      This is a very bad idea indeed by Greenwich Council and Council Tax Payers must resist the changes to weekly bin collections at every cost. As you can rest assured there will be no reduction in our council tax bills.

      • I totally agree with Graham on this subject. There will certainly be an increase of flytipping, dumped waste strewn over roads or even bin bags left beside litter bins.

        Especially with the inadequate Street cleaning in the Borough already. More needs to be done as this will lead to major problems.

        So, Weekly bin collections must remain.

    • This is not about the environment. Its cost cutting. Else they would be offering to return the money back in the form of council tax reductions.
      I also am guessing European Land Fill Tax may be going away, so double the council bonus!
      If Blocks of flats produce lower quality recyclable rubbish, then developers should be charged so that this can be processed. Which would help recycling in general. If feels that if you have a garden, you are now subsidising the sustainability of blocks of flats ?!
      But, its more efficient to collect from a block of flats – so all that new money from new council tax receipts should more than pay for better handling of waste.
      I recycle as much as I can, I could handle a black bin collection once every 2 weeks, but recyclable + kitchen/garden waste need to be taken away weekly for health reasons.
      Greenwich even composts green bin waste and sells it.

      So much wrong here – I know Greenwich is a safe seat – but to do this so close to an election, hmm…

    • Some very interesting comments and concerns here.

      In truth this has been coming for some time and I’m surprised it’s not been introduced sooner. Many Local Authorities across the UK in both rural and urban areas have fortnightly residual waste collections regardless of local political persuasion and have done so pre and post 2010 when Local Govt finances started to be squeezed. In most places it works well and drives up levels of recycling and reduces left over residual waste.

      No reason it can’t work well in Greenwich too but the Council will need to address bin storage capacity, keep food waste collected weekly and look at weekly nappy collections. Oh and massively improved street cleansing which is poor in Greenwich compared to other London Boroughs.

      If you don’t like the sound of fortnightly waste collections, thank your lucky stars you’re not in other parts of the country such as Wales, SW England or Greater Manchester where waste collections are every three weeks in some Councils! Some places are even looking at monthly collections! If the proposed changes are well planned and implemented there will be both financial and environmental benefits. Let’s see how the consultation plays out!

    • Just leave the current bin situation alone Greenwich Council, it works well.

    • Apart from the increased fly tipping think of all the extra car journeys of people travelling across the borough to go to the rubbish / recycling depot in Thamesmead and then sitting in the queue for ID checks before being allowed to dump it.

    • This would be terrible, if it’s implemented we’ll have to get used to a dirtier and more vermin infested environment. The current weekly collection works well, we need to keep it.

      • When the Goverment implemented a similar approach in Poland it resulted in toxic smog in Warsaw because of everyone just burnt their trash on bonfires, including plastic packaging and all else, to avoid being charged by privatised recycling companies.

        ‘Contaminated’ or not, only a percentage of recyclable material is actually recycled, as the companies contracted to do it, are, unsurprisingly, governed by their own profit motive; this make ‘zero waste’ a fallacy.

    • So few comments about pollution and congestion when the proposed Silver link Tunnel is raised and so many about paying £30 a year for garden waste and black bins being emptied every two weeks!

      • You appear to of read the same comments as everybody else did, yet interpreted it that way
        via your own ‘filters’.

        I mainly see people concerned about the collateral effect this will have on the urban environment.

    • Dreadful idea. What else do we pay council tax for? Virtually the only council service most people regularly make use of. If they need to make spending cuts, they should start with their bloated salaries and expense claims.

    • I have no problem with environmental / green issues but long term this is all about saving the council money & costing us money ( possible green bin collection charge ). Perhaps we will get a council tax cut in the future. Yeah right. Also this will lead to more garbage in the streets. For sure.

    • I already have three 240l bins. The blue recycling is always full and the green garden / kitchen waste full for 9 months of the year mainly due to garden waste. Given our usage the black general waste bin could be reduced to a max 60l. That does raise the question whether we are putting some non-recyclable waste in the blue bin or whether we order too much from Amazon with all the associated packaging!

      The problem during the summer is that the black bin can smell and leaving its collection for 2 weeks will only add to the problem. Certainly a problem with young families using disposable nappies.

      Having an extra small bin for food doesn’t appeal at all. Certainly the foxes around here will find them much easier to get into.

      As regards charging residents with red tags I feel there needs to be a yellow card type system; say 2 warnings in a 6 month period and then you pay up. I have had waste dumped in my blue bin when leaving it out on the grass verge overnight.

    • All my rubbish is bagged before going in the appropriate bins.Black sacks for black top, Clear recycling bags for the blue top and container bags for the food container. The only thing that go in my green top bin loose is garden waste as they will not take garden waste in sacks.

      The problem we have is neighbours throwing soiled nappies and wet wipes in our bins when their bins are full they also dumped carrier bags of rubbish in the bins which is so annoying as i like all my main rubbish properly bag and tide to keep my bins as clean as possible.

      I can see more of these incidents happening if the bin collections are changed to two weekly collections.As well as rubbished dumped all over our streets encouraging more vermin.

    • I have had the odd bin taken and had to apply for a new one. But have been woken at night on occasions by the sound of wheelie bins being wheeled past my house. I decided to keep a watch why this was. I saw a man at the end of the road loading a Transit type van with a number of bins. (was not close enough to take number) I spoke to the council collection service and they advised me to take the unique number on the back of my bins, keep it, and report it to them so in future if one goes missing and the bin turns up elsewhere they can check who has taken it? Likely to be a takeaway shop or a new landlord needing to supply bins to each tenant?

    • This is a terrible idea. I used to live in Merton borough and they implemented this scheme, also with the idea that it would cut costs. It resulted in mass fly tipping and rubbish EVERYWHERE! To say it was disgusting is an understatement. I really think the council should look at promoting sustainable usage of products and not try and jump on the bandwagon of “Climate Emergency” and then hit their end residents with inflated costs for rubbish collection. Start hitting the suppliers who refuse to use recyclable packaging. Start hitting those who have a huge food waste bill. Start hitting the companies where the change needs to start. Not the end of line consumer who, although they have choices, are ultimately limited by what they can obtain.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.