The city's paper scheme – which was already being heralded as the largest in the country – will now serve around 310,000 “suitable” households. Previously, 210,000 households in the city had fortnightly collections and another 60,000 had monthly collections. Now all collections will be fortnightly and 40,000 more households will be included.
The extension is supported by a DEFRA award of approximately 315,000 from the first round of the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund, which will carry it through to March 2002.
Since the collections began in November 2001 it has suffered from criticism of low yields. This was blamed on the fact that paper collections for each area fell on different days to the refuse collections.
The Birmingham Evening Mail had labelled the Labour city council's scheme “an embarrassing flop” for yielding an average of 200 tonnes a week. And Liberal Democrat councillor John Hemming had said: “Birmingham has spent huge amounts of money proving the council's capacity to mess up a good idea.”
But from this week, collections – which are carried out by an in-house council team – will be carried out on the same day as ordinary refuse.
Jeremy Shields of Birmingham City Council admitted that setting the paper collections on a different day to refuse collections had not worked. “When we were planning the scheme, we almost decided the paper collections should be on the same day as refuse collections, but there were some objections,” he said.
“Later, we did some public consultation and the single clear message was that people wanted collections to be on the same day. We have made that change as of this week.”
The council will bid in the second round of DEFRA tenders this September to raise money to extend the scheme further after March next year.
By the end of this year, the city hopes to collect an additional 5,000 tonnes of paper, Mr Shields said. The material will continue to be processed for cardboard at Kappa Paper Recycling in the centre of Birmingham.