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Emerald Knight

How many bins do you need?

It is pretty much universally accepted that recycling is a good thing – not only does it prevent even more rubbish going into landfill sites, it hopefully allows local authorities to generate a little revenue (subject to market forces) and also keeps green issues in the everyday thoughts of the public at large.

However, there is always the danger with things like this that some people will go too far and make the whole thing seem ridiculous. This is exactly what has happened in numerous local authorities across the UK as overzealous councils have lumbered their residents with an unmanageable number of different containers for their refuse. This of course leads to what seems like a never ending task sorting the rubbish into the separate containers for the weekly or fortnightly collections.

While the newspapers again had the opportunity to use their favourite ‘postcode lottery’ phrases, the discrepancy across the country is sometimes quite marked. For example, the poor residents of Newcastle-under-Lyme have the unenviable task of sorting their rubbish into nine different bags and bins for collection; while a further 20 councils demand the use of seven different containers.

At the other end of the spectrum, residents of Dumfries and Galloway and the Isles of Scilly have just one container for all of their household waste and a further 17 councils have just two containers in operation, one for waste and one for recycling. The average for England and Scotland is four containers.

Research shows that recycling rates are unaffected whether the rubbish is sorted into different containers by residents, by the kerbside by dustbin men or later at a recycling centre. However, it may be that the number of rubbish containers increases again soon – the UK need to raise the level of household waste it recycles from the current 40 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

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Comments (2)

tony durbin on 1st March 2011

Fine……..and we are all doing our best recycling everything combustible possible down here in the Lewes East Sussex area – in order to make it virtually impossible for the new ( much disliked) mass burn incinerator to work safely at optimum temperature.
East Sussex County Council went against public demand to build total resource recovery plants ( well proven technology) located at landfill sites Hastings / Beddinham / and another location. Each of which would have been fitted with biomass CHP to burn pellets made solely from the cellulosic waste; to produce clean- multi megawatt electricity and only a fraction of the bottom ash (about 8% by weight of the input fuel) against getting on for 28% bottom ash/flyash/scrubber residues from the 250K / MT per annum mass burn incineration. Total cost of the 3 strategically TRR plants by Advanced Recycling Technology Ltd would have cost in all, less than two thirds the cost of the Newhaven mass burn incinerator. / The three plants would have saved thousands of miles travel for the refuses trucks and therefore enormous amounts of fossil fuel carbon emissions to atmosphere.
The East Sussex County Council executive should hang their heads in shame

Penelope Welch on 15th September 2011

I need a third of one wheelie bin as I have very little from the house that needs to go to landfill and I recycle the rest myself. I think we should be able to request bins, rather than be told we will be getting them and then to put the right things in them and not to overfill them or they will charge us. I think ‘they’ forget we are paying them to work on our behalf and better communications would make us much more amenable. My bins are almost bigger than my front garden and those in my CLose footprint quite a large flat. Communical bins for flats are good though, if equally ugly.