HOUSEHOLDERS in Bury are set to become the first in England to have their grey bins emptied once every three weeks under ambitious plans to create a “zero waste” borough.

Recycling bins will be emptied more frequently as council bosses strive to push recycling rates up from 47.6 per cent to 60 per cent or more by March, 2016.

Grey bins, which cater for nonrecyclable household waste, are currently emptied every two weeks.

The changes would make annual savings of £862,000 in waste treatment and disposal costs and will be introduced from early October.

Council chiefs will embark on a series of publicity drives, such as neighbourhood roadshows, onlinequestions and answers, and deliveries of information packs and leaflets to individual homes.

Cllr Tony Isherwood, cabinet member for the environment, said: ““Under the new proposals, most households will continue to have a collection of at least one type of waste every week.

“Grey bins will be emptied less often but, because the green and blue recycling bins will be collected more often, there will be no change to the total weekly bin space available across all four bins.

“Treatment and disposal of waste from grey bins costs us about £28,000 per day — that’s £10.2 million per year. A lot of this waste could be recycled instead.”

Under the Bury Zero Waste Strategy, there will be changes in the way household bins are collected. The recommendations are:

■ Grey bins (for waste that cannot be recycled) to be emptied once every three weeks — instead of two

■ Green bins (for paper and cardboard) to be emptied once every three weeks — instead of four

■ Blue bins (for plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, food-and-drink cans, aerosol cans and aluminium foil) to be emptied once every three weeks — instead of four

■ Brown bins (for garden waste and food waste) to be emptied once every two weeks — as they are now.

Under the new arrangements, larger families with extra nonrecyclable waste, such as disposable nappies, will be able to apply for an extra grey bin.

Extra blue and green recycling bins can also be requested. Any household with one of the smaller brown bins will be able to ask for a larger one.

Underlining the aims and importance of the “zero waste”strategy,

Cllr Isherwood added: “In the last three years Bury’s recycling rate has risen from 29.4 per cent to 47.6 per cent but, given that studies show it’s actually possible to recycle 75 per cent, we know we can and must do more.

“Recycling just 10 per cent more than we do now would save nearly £1 million per year: that’s a lot of money which would be better spent on protecting other local services.

“If the system gets the go-ahead, residents can be assured that we’ll be doing everything we can to smooth the changes for everyone and helping to remove any barriers to recycling that residents may have.

"This will help improve our recycling rates and make Bury a better place.”

Bury could become the first English authority to switch grey bin collections every three weeks, following similar announcements by councils in Gwynedd, Wales, and Falkirk in Scotland.

Asked if Bury could fall foul of the government, in wake of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wanting councils to resume weekly bin collections, Cllr Isherwood responded: “We have checked on that and we can do this legally. Obviously, we didn’t want to announce something deemed illegal.”