Chelmsford City Council

Changes to black bin collections

As part of our long term strategy to improve how we process our waste, we have started collecting black bins on a fortnightly basis.

By making this change, we want to:

  • encourage higher levels of recycling
  • make significant cost savings
  • ensure that future generations are not left to deal with our rubbish



The only change is to household black bin collections, which are now fortnightly. We are not changing any other collections, including household food waste collections.

We will still be making collections from flats on a weekly basis. We are currently improving our recycling service to flats and apartments.


The environment

Our black bin waste levels are among the highest in the country. We need to reduce the amount of black bin waste we produce, by increasing the amount we recycle.

Black bins are only for waste that you can’t recycle. Non-recyclable rubbish goes to landfill, which is unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

You can recycle most of your household waste, including:

  • paper
  • card
  • cartons
  • cans
  • glass
  • textiles
  • small electronics

By recycling these items, you will only need to dispose of a small portion of rubbish in your black bin.

Many residents tell us that they are no longer filling their black bins, and are beginning to question the expense of weekly collections.


Improving efficiency

Every bin collection costs money, including:

  • vehicle running costs
  • staff time
  • disposing of the rubbish we collect

Last year, the cost of all our recycling and waste collection services was £4.1 million.

Black bin waste is the most expensive collection we make, costing £36.65 per household each year.

In contrast, recycling collections cost £13.43 per household each year, and garden waste collections cost £9.32 per household each year.

Collecting black bins every two weeks will save £470,000 a year in costs. It also means that we will not need to spend £600,000 on new vehicles, which we would need if we continued with weekly collections.

Disposing of black bin rubbish costs Essex County Council £105 per tonne, so if we reduce it, this will save money for the whole county.

Like all other local authorities, we are facing considerable financial pressures. Making these savings will help us to continue essential services and will reduce the need for us to make cuts in other areas.

We have to ensure a balanced budget, now and in future years, and this change will be an important contribution to this process.

We are not planning on making any redundancies as part of the change. We will deploy our current drivers and operatives into other vacant roles.


Your black bin collections

We provide one 180 litre black bin to each household, which should be big enough if you recycle. If you have seven or more people living in your household, you can request a larger 240 litre bin. If you have a smaller household or don’t generate much rubbish, you can ask for a smaller 120 litre bin.

Fortnightly black bin collections will not cause an increase in odour, or cause a hygiene risk.

Pests and bad smells

Pests are attracted to food waste if it is not contained properly. You should recycle food waste, which we will still be collecting on a weekly basis.

You can also use a compost bin to turn organic waste into a soil improver for your garden. This is an even better method to dispose of your garden and some food waste than recycling, both environmentally and economically.


You should dispose of disposable nappies in your black bin, once you have placed them in a nappy sack and tied it up. The rest of the country follows this arrangement where they have fortnightly black bin collections. Research suggests that this does not cause any problems with smell.

Medical problems

We already offer free clinical and incontinence waste collections. We will provide separate bins and sacks for this waste, and you can get sharps containers from your GP.

You can request special collections.

Extra rubbish

If you have a lot of rubbish on occasion, you can take it to your nearest Essex County Council Recycling Centre for Household Waste.

You can also request a pre-paid special collection from us, for one-off occasions only.

We will not make a collection if:

  • you leave rubbish next to your bin
  • you leave rubbish on top of your bin
  • the lid will not close


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