Alternate weekly bin collections - September 2016

1. Why does Blackburn with Darwen Council need to change its waste collection service?

The Council has been dealing with unprecedented cuts for the past seven years. Important services have been affected throughout the process. Northern authorities like Blackburn with Darwen have been harder hit. The financial pressures have led the Council to review how it delivers the waste collection service in Blackburn with Darwen. We need to save another £48 million by 2020 and changing the way we collect your waste will save over £200,000 pounds each year.

As well as financial constraints, we need to meet demanding government targets to reduce the amount of waste we produce and try to recycle more. If we do not meet these targets, the Council could face tough financial penalties and it’s likely these penalties would be passed on to Council Tax payers. The most sustainable way to manage our waste is to alternate bin collections, which encourages householders to recycle more.

2. What will the changes be?

At the moment, burgundy (rubbish) bins are emptied every week. This will change to every other week for all households with individual wheeled bins. The next week the grey (recycling) bin will be emptied. This change will commence from 3rd October 2016, but you will receive an information pack a few days before this date, which will include a new calendar for your bin emptying days, as your day of collection may change.

Collections of brown (garden waste) bins will not change until collections end at the end of November 2016 for the winter break in service. Garden waste will become a chargeable service from March 2017 at a cost of £25

3. I live in a flat with communal bins - will my collections change?

You will not be affected by the alternate weekly collection at this time and will remain on a weekly refuse collection although your collection days may change and you will receive notification of this. However if you don’t currently separate your waste and recycle you may be asked to do so in the future. This is due to space allocated to store multiple or large bins.

4. When will the changes happen?

Changes to the collection service will take effect from 3 October, 2016. During September 2016 every household will receive a pack explaining the changes and containing a new waste collection calendar. You can also go online to find your collection days for the foreseeable future at

5. I pay my council tax. Why are you changing my refuse collections when council tax has increased?

Council funding is complex and comes from many sources, including government grants, business rates, fees, charges and council tax. Blackburn with Darwen, like all local authorities, is experiencing a reduction in specific government grants, which is set to continue until at least 2019/20. This, together with rising costs, creates a financial pressure that needs to be addressed in the form of budget savings or increasing income from council tax and other sources. While we have increased Council tax this year, it is only a relatively small part of how the Council is funded and without other measures, it is not enough to help us meet our costs.

Blackburn with Darwen’s total expenditure for 2016/17 is £386m, which covers a number of services from care for children and adults, education, maintenance of roads, refuse collection and disposal, grounds maintenance, sports, libraries, arts, bereavement services, housing benefits etc. Council tax generates £43.9m of income in 2016/17 – around 11% of total funding towards all council services.

As well as saving money, we need to make these changes now to help us to meet government recycling targets. If we fail to increase recycling rates in the borough from the current rate of 36% to at least 50% by 2020, we may have to pay hefty Government fines.

6. Are other local councils doing this?

Many authorities empty their refuse bins on a fortnightly basis and in some areas, it is every three weeks.  Blackburn with Darwen BC is one of only 2 Councils in the North west that provide a weekly rubbish collection service. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 states that waste collection authorities have a duty to arrange waste collections but there are no requirements about how frequent these collections should be. 

7. Is it a health hazard to empty my bin every other week?

The 2007 report Health Impact Assessment of Alternate Week Waste Collections of Biodegradable Waste sponsored by Defra’s Waste Implementation Programme concluded that this type of collection did not pose a threat to human health. The report also states that problems with rats and flies could be eradicated with common sense precautions including keeping waste wrapped.

8. Will my bin smell?

Follow this simple hygiene checklist to avoid problems:

  • Securely wrap and tie potentially smelly waste
  • Ensure the bin lid is always closed
  • Try to avoid storing your bin in direct sunlight
  • Rinse containers and wrapping if possible
  • Occasionally wash out your bin with disinfectant
  • Double wrap waste such as cooked or raw meat scraps before putting in the bin
  • Double wrap nappies or other hygiene products before putting in the bin

9. I am concerned about maggots, flies, rats and other vermin

We use wheeled bins to collect your rubbish for hygiene and safety reasons and will only collect refuse contained in your bin with the lid closed.

Refuse sacks or boxes placed alongside or on top of the bin will not be removed.

Waste left at the side of your bin could be pulled open by foraging animals.

Flies will only lay eggs onto food if it is unprotected and accessible. Double wrapping or putting food waste into bags before putting into the bin will ensure you don’t have a problem with flies and maggots.

10. Will emptying bins less often lead to fly tipping?

Experience from other local authorities suggests that fly tipping does not increase as a result of bins being emptied every other week. It is the householder’s duty of care to dispose of their waste correctly. Households generating any additional waste can use either of our household waste recycling centres.

11. Will my bin be big enough for two weeks’ worth of rubbish?

Most households that recycle correctly should find the current 140 litre burgundy refuse bin is big enough for two weeks’ worth of waste. All residents are entitled to multiple grey recycling bins, free of charge, and these can be ordered on our website. Provision will be made for larger households with four or more occupants, who are recycling, to be able to change from a 140 litre burgundy bin, to a 240 litre burgundy bin on request. Residents can apply for a larger bin between now and 18th December 2016. After this time, any household that applies for a larger bin will have to have an audit of their waste to qualify. We would like residents to try and recycle more and only apply for a bigger bin if absolutely necessary.

12. How do I apply for a larger bin?

You can apply for a larger bin at

You may be asked to provide evidence of occupancy, such as:

  • Current Benefits Agency letter
  • Current State Pension notification letter
  • Medical card or letter from your GP or hospital
  • Bills, e.g. utility bills that contain your name and address
  • Any other official letter that includes your name and address

The first larger bin will be provided free of charge, but any replacement bins after that will cost £20. Deliveries will start in mid-September. Your new bin will arrive on your current collection day, after the crew have emptied your existing bin and will only be left if your old burgundy bin is left out for collection.

13. Someone in my household has a medical condition which means we produce more waste. What can I do?

If you, or someone in your household, generate an increased amount of waste due to a medical condition you can apply for a larger bin through our waste audit scheme. If you do not have 4 residents in your property please email your request to

14. I already have a second authorised red lidded bin. Can I keep this?

If you have already had an audit of your waste and you have previously qualified for an additional bin you can keep this bin AND apply for a 240 litre burgundy bin as well.

15. I have animals. Can I have a larger burgundy bin to dispose of the waste they produce?

No. The provision of larger burgundy bins is based on the number of people who permanently live in your house.

16. What can I put in my burgundy bin?

Please put normal household waste in this bin. It is for food waste, bagged household waste and things we can’t take in your grey recycling bin.

There are some things we cannot take even in the burgundy bin

  • No rubble, plaster or builder’s waste
  • No cans of paint
  • Please bag all animal wastes such as dog and cat faeces (poo)
  • Please bag cat litter and animal bedding.

Garden waste should not be placed in your burgundy bin. Use your local household waste recycling centre to dispose of small electrical items. If you can’t get to the tip to recycle your small electrical items you may use your burgundy bin, never your grey recycling bin.

If you can’t take your unwanted clothes and bedding to a charity shop, or recycle at a clothing bank (there is one at the tip) use your burgundy bin, never your grey recycling bin.

17. What can I put in my grey bin?

You can put in:

  • Plastic bottles and tubs (emptied and rinsed)
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Food and drinks cans (emptied and rinsed)
  • Cardboard (clean)
  • Glass bottles and jars (emptied and rinsed)
  • Paper including envelopes

You don’t have to worry about keeping different types of recycling separate.  You can put it all in the grey bin as long as it is clean and on our list of items that we can recycle. Put items in loose, not in bags.

Don’t put in:

  • Black bags
  • Textiles ( clothing and bedding)
  • Food waste
  • Polystyrene
  • Electrical items
  • Nappies or hygiene products
  • Garden waste
  • Plastic bags

18. What can I put in my brown bin?

For those who have a garden waste collection service, please only put garden waste in your brown bin. You can put in:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Leaves from the garden
  • Tree and shrub pruning
  • Old plants, flowers and weeds
  • Hedge clippings

Don’t put in:

  • Bin liners, plastic bags, metal
  • Animal waste, dog poo and cat litter
  • Kitchen waste
  • Large amounts of soil, sawdust or sand
  • Leaves collected from the street gutters which may include litter, grit/chippings, road salt and asphalt residue
  • vacuum cleaner dust

20. What if I am moving house?

If you are moving house you can apply for a larger bin at your new property. If this is the first 240 litre burgundy bin at that property it will be free of charge. Any replacement bins will be charged at £20.

21. What will happen if my bin is missed?

We will only return for missed collection bins in the following circumstances:

  • The bin was placed out before 7am on the day of collection
  • The right collection point was used
  • In the case of assisted collections, there was access to get the bin e.g. gate unlocked
  • A rejected sticker has not been put on the bin
  • A crew report has not been received regarding the bin e.g. heavy, excessive waste, contamination

All missed bins can be reported at where you can also see the reason your bin has been missed if it has been reported by one of our crew members.

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