FORTNIGHTLY rubbish collections could soon be introduced in Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross as a council bids to improve its low recycling rate.

Government stats show South Bucks District Council ranks in the bottom quarter of local authorities for recycling, with its rate actually dropping slightly since 2009.

Most homes in the district still get their rubbish collected in black bin bags every week, with paper, cans and plastic bottles picked up once a fortnight.

However, food and garden waste is only collected from 5,400 homes in the Denham area, which is part of a trial benefitting from a Government grant.

These homes have had bin bags replaced by two wheelie bins, to separate landfill rubbish from waste which can be composted. These bins are collected on alternate weeks to "help you deal with your rubbish in a more positive way".

The trial area has achieved a "fantastic" recycling rate of about 50 per cent, so the Conservative council is looking to roll this out across the district.

Cllr Nick Naylor, the council’s cabinet member for environment, told the Bucks Free Press: "Around 34 per cent of the waste we collect in the district is recycled and composted and we are aware that we are not one of the top performing authorities.

"An alternative collection service has been introduced in part of the district which has the potential to yield recycling rates of over 50 per cent. We are working with members and our contractor to introduce a similar service district wide..."

The BFP asked what council tax increase would be needed to pay for the wheelie bin rollout, but Cllr Naylor said the costs of the initiative have not yet been discussed.

Fortnightly rubbish collections have proved controversial in some areas. In November, Tory local government minister Eric Pickles described weekly collections as a "basic public service" and warned councils which fail to maintain or restore weekly collections could see their funding cut.

But recent stats from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggest the 10 councils with the biggest increases in recycling last year had recently brought in fortnightly refuse collections and food waste recycling.

Responding to the figures Julian Kirby, waste and resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told a national newspaper: "It’s obvious that fortnightly collections boost recycling and save councils money. The sad thing about this is that it’s like having to argue about people causing climate change."

The recycling rate for SBDC has fallen by about one per cent since 2009, which is partly due to the economic downturn having a bigger impact on recyclables.

But the reduction is a blow to the council’s ambition to recycle and compost 60 per cent of waste by 2025.

SBDC ranked 289th out of 352 councils for recycling in 2011/12, though plastic bottle collections have only recently started so are yet to show through in the figures.

The council is also trying to create a waste transfer site at Dropmore Road Depot in Burnham which would help its recycling operations.

Wycombe and Chiltern district councils have already introduced the black and green wheelie bin system in most areas, and recycled 42 and 47 per cent of waste last year respectively.