RECYCLING collections will change from weekly to fortnightly pick ups and residents will pay an annual charge for their green waste removal, if plans are given the go ahead.

On Wednesday, October 23 Swindon Council’s cabinet will vote on whether a consultation on refuse collections, which could save the authority £1m, should be launched.

Under the proposals, people’s recycling, which includes plastic, paper and tins, will be picked up once every two weeks – putting £520,000 back into the council’s kitty by reducing refuse vans and the amount of contractual staff paid for by the council.

And residents will no longer have green plastic bags for their green waste but will instead pay £35 for a wheelie bin and then an extra £35 annual fee to have their refuse collected. It is hoped this will claw back £635,000 for the council. The council collects 9,700 tonnes of green waste each year and 60 per cent of people use the service. The council expects that to initially drop to 15 per cent if the changes are brought it.

The leader of the council, David Renard, says the council has to make £48m savings in three years, which meant no service would be safe from cuts.

“We have been running an extremely good service, probably far superior to other councils,” he said. “Which was great when we could afford it.”

Since being introduced in 2006, the green waste has encountered a number of problems. Increasing demand and financial pressures have led to a four-bag limit per household.

Many residents have complained that this is insufficient and has added to the problem of bags splitting. The wheelie bins will be able to carry the equivalent of four or eight green bags. But residents can still use the council’s recycling centres free of charge.

Coun Richard Hurley, the cabinet member for public protection and streetSmart, said the changes would have minimal impact, as research has revealed a lot of residents did not realise their boxes were collected on a weekly basis.

Household waste will be picked up on the same day as all other refuse – resulting in fewer vehicles and fewer contractors being paid for by the authority. It will also reduce the need for the council to use 19 agency workers a year.

“A lot of the boxes were not used to their full capacity,” said Coun Hurley. “These changes would mean residents can basically put everything out for collection on the same day, rather than keeping track of alternate weeks for certain types of recycling, such as plastics.

“We remain committed to encouraging people to recycle as much as possible, and these proposed changes are in keeping with how other councils across the country already operate.”

If the plans get the go ahead the changes will come into effect in February and the green waste scheme on April 1.