Huge changes are coming to bin collections across England, as new government rules are introduced.

Recycling in England is to be standardised from 2026, with all homes, businesses and schools recycling the same materials, the government has said.

There will also be a once-a-week minimum requirement for the collection of food waste, which the government said would reduce the amount going to landfill.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey described the current system as a “postcode lottery” whereby people living in different areas are not able to recycle the same materials.

Sidmouth Herald: Recycling in England is to be standardised from 2026Recycling in England is to be standardised from 2026 (Image: Martin Keene/PA Wire)

The government said it wants to simplify recycling for people across England, with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales setting their own policies under devolution.

Ms Coffey said: “Simpler recycling will help us all recycle more easily, doing our bit to help save the planet and make the best use of precious resources that we use every day.

“Alongside weekly food waste collections, we are ending the postcode lottery of what you can put in your bin so that wherever you live in the country, you will be able to recycle the same products with confidence.”

It is also considering expanding these rules to cover places of worship, prisons, charity shops and residential hostels.

Ministers also want to introduce free garden waste collections for every home instead of giving councils discretion on whether to charge or not, though the District Councils’ Network (DCN) said this would result in people who do not use the service subsidising those who do.

The DCN also warned that many councils will be unable to procure the correct equipment in time to meet the 2026 deadline while many cannot afford the cost of new bins, vehicle fleets or in some cases larger depots.

Councillor Sarah Nelmes, the DCN’s environment spokesperson, said: “Today’s announcement that councils will be able to collect waste materials however they decide is a victory for common sense.

“We can continue to rely on the local solutions which have increased recycling rates and we now have the certainty we need to take long-term decisions on how to improve services for our residents and to help us move towards net zero.

“Although we will be spared the costs of buying vast numbers of bins and vehicles for the sole purpose of conforming to top-down stipulation, there will still be significant costs attached to the reforms, and we await further detail from the Government on how they will be funded.”

The Government said it will provide “reasonable funding” to cover any extra costs from the changes, with money coming from a combination of new burdens funding and payments through Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging.

Current recycling rates in England are just over 44% and have remained around this figure for the last 10 years.

A ban on single use plastic such as plates, trays, bowls, balloon sticks and polystyrene food and drinks containers came into force on October 1 which ministers hope will increase this percentage.