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Food for thought

Over the past three years Waltham Forest Council has been collecting residents’ brown bins weekly rather than fortnightly over the warmer summer months, and the initiative has proved a real success story.

“We’ve seen the amount of food and garden waste we collect increase greatly because of the initiative,” explained Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“Fundamentally it is about understanding how our residents feel about waste. We recognised that for some the idea of leaving food waste uncollected for two weeks – even in a secure bin – was too much to bear.”

By collecting weekly the Council has given residents the encouragement they need to only dispose of food and garden waste in their brown bin, and not to be tempted to put it in their black bin.

Councils up and down the country are looking to find these sorts of innovative solutions to drive up their recycling rates, both to help the environment and to stop having to pay the price of sending waste to landfill or for incineration.

Waltham Forest residents are reminded that the weekly collections revert back to fortnightly from the end of this month, except for two rounds in Chingford and Leytonstone where there will be a trial of an extended month of weekly organic waste collections.

Affected residents will be told that the Council will continue to have their brown bins collected weekly in order to test whether the amounts collected continue to remain higher.

Obviously this time of year the leaves start to fall from the trees, which is one of the reasons garden waste may be greater. However, it will also be interesting to see if residents continue to use their brown bins to a greater degree for food waste as well, or whether some starts to creep back into black bins.

While the fear is that food waste left in bins will attract flies and vermin, if the bin lid is shut properly and with the weather getting colder, the truth is this problem is very rarely experienced.

What’s more, putting all your peelings and leftovers in your brown bin can make a real difference. For example, by simply putting tea bags in the brown bin, Waltham Forest residents can compost around 800 tonnes more food waste a year.

To find out what organic waste you can dispose of go to

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