Bring back brown bins, Barnet Council begged
The return of brown bin rounds to Barnet was thrown into question after councillors revealed the decision is subject to a government consultation.
The consultation, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, states that local authorities could be expected to have separate food waste collections in place by the 2024-25 financial year at the latest.
It led one councillor to claim a commitment to bring the collections back had become “even weaker”.
Barnet Council revealed plans to stop brown bin collections in 2018, claiming the move would save £300,000 a year.
After Mayor of London Sadiq Khan threatened to overturn the decision, Conservative councillors voted to suspend the rounds – and the council later revealed plans to reintroduce them following a review of the service.
In a member’s item at a meeting of the environment committee last week, Labour councillor Claire Farrier called for the collections to be restarted as soon as possible.
Cllr Farrier said: “We are asking for a firm commitment that food waste collections will be reinstated and a report to come back to the next committee on how that can be effected.”
Responding to the call, Conservative Peter Zinkin claimed the science showed producing energy by incinerating the waste had the same environmental impact as anaerobic digestion.
He said separate food waste rounds were “extremely expensive” and participation rates in flats were “extremely low”.
But Cllr Zinkin added that the government had put out a consultation on the consistency of recycling and could ask local authorities to carry out separate food waste collections.
He said: “Once we have the environment bill and we know what it is that we have to do, when, and what additional resources are going to be provided by the government to help us do that – that is the moment to make the recommendation as to what to do next."
Labour's Alan Schneiderman said the majority of councils in London had separate food waste collections and claimed they were better for the environment. He said: "It is a bit concerning that tonight the commitment to bringing [separate food waste collections] back has got even weaker than it was.
Cllr Schneiderman disputed the council’s claim that suspending the collections would ultimately save money, claiming the scrapped waste vehicles would need to be brought back and the brown bins replaced.
Cllr Zinkin said the officials who created the government consultation seemed to have a “mythical English village” as their ideal waste collection scenario, with every household having room for multiple waste containers.
“I just don’t believe the scenario is particularly relevant to London, and we will be saying so in response to the consultation,” he added.
Labour voted in favour of Cllr Farrier’s member’s item, but it was defeated when Conservative members of the committee voted against.
Geoff Mee, the council’s executive director of environment, said he would update the committee on the outcome of the consultation.