The Hertfordshire borough of Broxbourne has one of the lowest recycling rates in the UK and so has started a 6 month pilot scheme which enables them to charge householders who do not keep their household rubbish amounts down to one large bag a week.
Broxbourne recycles only 14% of household waste whilst the UK average is 27%. For the next 6 months they have handed out 26 purple sacks to each of 3,000 households in the Goffs Oak and Rye Road areas and for which the bags must last the entire 6 months if households are not to incur any extra outlay. The scheme is modeled on one used by Eden council in Cumbria which have been running the scheme since 2004.They report an increase of their recycling rates to 40% and no significant increase in fly tipping incidents as a result.
Homes that require extra refuse sacks must purchase them for 28 pence a sack but available only in packs of ten.
Following the fatal explosion by the IRA at Victoria station in London in 1991 which saw a bomb placed in a concourse litter bin a radical rethink of the security headache of bins saw many of them simply removed and unavailable on most London underground stations.
Terrorism And The Humble Bin
Bring this up to date and terrorism is still with us(and probably will remain so for some time to come). Enter this bin from Renew Solution which was tested in the New Mexico desert to contain a bomb explosion. The plastic surround is made from recycled materials and has an embedded LCD screen on which news, weather and advertising can be show (ah advertising).
£18,000 ‘Recycling Unit’
The bin itself costs £15,000 to make and £3,000 to install so local authorities, tube stations and airports may not initially be rushing to install these things so the company has proposed giving them to London authorities and recouping costs through sponsorship.
The bin or ‘recycling unit’ as the company prefers to call it can hold an average household sized bin and in the event of terrorist attacks (which presumably the bin survives) the screen can switch to public service information and directions should such an event occur within its vicinity.
Following what seemed like an abandonment of the controversial pay as you throw recycling and waste charging scheme the UK government have decided to place the responsibility for possible implementation with local authorities, so undermining the advantage of central government and the chance of a single unified recycling policy for the UK.
Ignoring The Problem
Having ignored long standing EU targets on reducing biodegradable material which have been in place since 1999 and the UK’s inability meet waste targets has seen potentially recyclable materials ending up in landfill and hence failing to meet targets to reduce the amount of UK rubbish that merely ends up in one of the increasingly scarce landfill sites within the UK.
Passing The Buck To Councils
The government is effectively handing the metaphorical starting pistol over to local authorities as the UK faces potentially large fines from the EU for not reaching those waste targets.
We may see a few councils grasping the nettle and reluctantly introducing pay as you throw schemes in a desperate effort to stop their area council tax from rising due to the knock on effect of large penalties for the amount of landfill waste that the UK is producing .
A likely charge for pay as you throw is often cited as around £56 on top of the present council tax charge, rising to above £200 for those that fail to reduce or grade the recyclable elements for their weekly or fortnightly waste and recycle bin collections.
As I’ve mentioned before the local elections loom in the UK and of all the issues that may decide who votes for whom there now seems to be a concerted effort to make weekly bin collection one of the pivotal issues. Many councils now run an alternative weekly collection (AWC) for refuse bins with many more poised to adopt the system.
Where I live we still have a weekly collection of general waste bins and a fortnightly collection of recycle and garden waste bins. Many here have swapped their bins around so that the general waste bin is quite modest in size and the recycle bin is the largest of the bins. I’d personally have no problem with a move to fortnightly general waste bin collection however our council is Lib Dem controlled and have been dropping leaflets (there’s a irony there) stating their commitment to keeping the weekly bin collections. Certainly there are families in our close that would struggle to contain their present waste output to a fortnightly pickup and I have no idea if they would try to reduce their waste production or just look to throw their excess into neighbours bins. This issue is less controversial than longer term “pay as you throw” proposals which may see an additional charge alongside the present council tax and which could rise in price if a household does not keep their yearly waste within a certain limit defined by weight. This would see the introduction of chipped bins that would monitor a households waste output by weight.
Does this face look worried? Interesting to see UK local councils panic as HM Gov toys with the idea of introducing “pay as you throw” across the UK. One of the things that peeves me about recycling in Brittania PLC is how there’s no countrywide policy and rules are made at a county council level.This means that where I live we have 3 dedicated bins, one for general waste, one for organic matter such as grass cuttings etc (it’s big and it’s BROWN!!) and one for items that the local authority can recycle. In my area that means plastic bottles ONLY, tin cans, paper, and cardboard. Anything else such as plastic containers for food and washing that are marked as recyclable cannot be taken and neither can glass bottles. Six miles down the road residents have plastic sacks and not dedicated bins and no recycling policy at all .Thirty miles away the council takes everything and even sorts it at the point of collection. Madness!
I’m not especially worried by any potential extra charges incurred by excessive household waste as we wouldn’t fall in the offender bracket however plenty of our neighbours probably would whose bins are full to overflowing each bin collection day and who cannot be arsed to use their recyle bin. It will push peoples buttons if charges are brought in as people already pay council tax. In Ireland where they’ve has pay-as-you-throw for a while now it’s seen the worst offenders try to put their rubbish in neighbours bins to escape charging and the proposal to bring in lockable bins(!). Ireland does not have the equivalent of a local council tax. I fear that attempts to get people to be responsible will just see people burning their rubbish in the back gardens to escape charges. I would rather HM Gov pressured the supermarkets to cut the excessive and non recyclable packaging that most of us end up putting in the bin rather than the easy target of consumers.