Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Why claims that the government will not fund a Birmingham food recycling scheme are utter nonsense

Why claims that the government will not fund a Birmingham food recycling scheme are utter nonsense

Those of you that follow my twitters will know that both Councillor John O’Shea (Labour , Acocks Green Ward) and myself went head-to-head on Radio WM this morning discussing the Birmingham Labour administration’s proposal to impose 3 wheelie bins per household throughout Birmingham.

In our debate, I raised the issue of the Labour administration abandoning the previous administrations proposal to bid for a city-wide food recycling collection. The food recycling collection would have been introduced in 2013 and would have been rotted down inside an anaerobic digester. The rotting food waste would in turn have produced methane gas which could have been used to generate electricity.

Throughout our debate Cllr O’Shea kept saying that the reason the food recycling was abandoned was because the government would not have funded it. He keeps repeating this claim on twitter. One twitter example is as follows “Food waste collection in Birmingham context does not fit this bid hierarchy laid down by DCLG & was not encouraged.”

This is all totally nonsense by Cllr O’Shea.

So what will the government will fund as part of their Weekly Collection Support Scheme? This can be seen in their Frequently Answered Questions document at

A browse through this document shows the government repeatedly suggesting that food waste collections are acceptable to bid for. Yet wheelie bins are NOT even mentioned
Question 1 in the document says the following. 

“The Weekly Collection Support Scheme is a challenge fund designed to support local authorities to introduce, retain or reinstate a weekly collection of residual waste and/or recycling (for example food waste).“ 

It then goes to suggest what Councils could bid for “investment in technologies ...... Composting or Anaerobic Digestion;” Anaerobic digestion is what is used to rot down food recycling.

Let’s go further on into document and look at Question 2. It says:
The addition of a weekly food waste collection for five years in this circumstance is considered to offer an increase in the service offered to householders.”

Going further on into document and look at Question 54. It says:
“Authorities that have worked hard to preserve weekly residual collections can also bid into the Scheme if they want to add a new recycling component such as weekly food waste.

.....and finally lets look at the Question 58 that Councillor John O’Shea clings onto as his evidence that the government wouldn’t fund food recycling.

“Question 58: Is there a preference for food waste?
The hierarchy against which bids will be judged is outlined in the Prospectus as:
i) a weekly residual collection alongside a weekly recyclables collection;
ii) a weekly residual collection with fortnightly recyclables collection;
iii) adding a weekly food waste (or organic) collection to a fortnightly collection of residual household waste.”

The above hierarchy is important, since it is against this criteria that I believe the Labour administrations bid for wheelie bins could fail. Notice the first preference “a weekly residual collection alongside a weekly recyclables collection;” The previous administration was going to also bid for increased recycling collection rates, so that areas with high levels of recycling would get weekly collections. The Labour administration has abandoned this proposal.
The previous administration’s bid to the government would have satisfied levels (i) and (ii) in the hierarchy......which in turn would have unlocked money for weekly food waste collections in level (iii).

In conclusion
Councillor John O’Shea is talking complete rubbish when he says the government would not have funded food recycling.......their own document is covered with suggestions for Councils to bid for food waste recycling.

It is interesting that the governments Frequently Asked Questions document does NOT suggest or hint at the government will funding wheelie bins ...... and yet the Birmingham Labour administration has blindly ignored the government’s advice and bid for £28.5million worth of wheelie bins. Does this sound like a bid that is going to be successful? I think not.


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