SOMERSET waste bosses have “no plans” to reverse recent changes to bin collections despite recent advice from the government.

The Recycle More reforms were rolled out across Somerset between June 2021 and June 2022, with more items being recycled at the kerbside and refuse collections moving from fortnightly to once every three weeks.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced on October 21 that it was contemplating forcing local councils to collect refuse rubbish “at least fortnightly” as part of “a new, simpler, common-sense approach to recycling”.

Somerset Council has said it has no plans to return to fortnightly refuse collections, arguing it has increased recycling rates and that Defra’s proposals “lack clarity”.

Some of the measures announced by Defra have already been implemented in Somerset, including weekly food waste collections and providing simple distinctions over which containers should be used for each kind of recyclable material.

Under Recycle More – implemented by the now-defunct Somerset Waste Partnership – households across Somerset were provided with a ‘big blue bag’ to store recyclable plastics, tin cans, aerosols and foil, on top of a green box for glass, a black box for paper and cardboard, and a brown caddy for food waste.

Defra is also backing the move to a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, which could be implemented in Somerset by October 2025 in a bid to reduce the number of single use plastic bottles.

But Defra has also announced there will be an expectation that “residual rubbish [i.e. black bin waste] is collected at least fortnightly, helping avoid long waits for smelly waste to be removed.

“We will also work with local authorities to assess the collection of residual waste more frequently, especially in urban areas.”

The three-weekly refuse collections forms part of the council’s waste collections contract with Suez – meaning it would need to be substantially renegotiated if the government imposed its intended changes.

The council said the government’s proposals were not legally binding and the Recycle More changes had seen a rise in recycling, with 56,2 per cent of all material collected by bin crews being able to be recycled since the scheme was implemented.

A spokesman said: “This is still under consultation and changes would not come into play until 2026. The government is proposing the changes as guidance and not law.

“The proposals lack clarity and we therefore have no plans to reverse our successful Recycle More service.

“The three-weekly refuse collections and expanded recycling collections have seen a reduction in refuse and helped our recycling rate rise to its highest ever level and above the national average.

“In England there are around 12 local authorities who collect refuse every three weeks, and we are often asked by others how they could learn from what we have achieved.”