I'LL bet the waste recycling department at
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council are wishing they had been more upfront
about the "bugs" that are an integral part of the wheelie bins at present blossoming
in backyards throughout the borough.
They believe they have been open
about the Big Brother devices - the size of a 2p piece - or so they are
now saying, but if that is the case why are so many residents incensed
about the news which broke in the national Sunday papers at the end of
last month, and was later taken up by the local press?
The Letters to the
Editors pages have been full of comments on the bugs. "Taking things too far", "A gross
invasion of privacy", "We are very angry", were just some of the reported
Not that Crewe and Nantwich
Borough Council is alone in this. They are apparently "one of a handful" of local
authorities (hence the national coverage) to use the bugs, with more to
The problem is that residents
feel that the bugs are a precursor to charging for anything deemed as
excess waste disposal on top of the amount charged for the service in the
Plans for such a charge is denied
by the council, saying it would lead to fly tipping and claims that the
excess rubbish was not put there by the householder.
Quoted in one newspaper, a
spokesman said the bug (sorry, microchip) showed the weight of the bin
and the address of the householder but not
what sort of rubbish was in it. But another paper had the same spokesman
saying the address was not held in the chip, just a bin identification
The chips are said to have been
mentioned in board reports of the council, but I wonder how many people
read those? And it is claimed that people with a brown (garden refuse) bin
have known about the bugs for a while. They are not planted in the black,
general bins, the contents of which are taken to landfill sites.
Some householders felt that more
devious neighbours, who are not into waste recycling, might be tempted to
dispose of waste in the "wrong" bins - that is, putting waste in bins
which they are not intended for.
Then the conscientious householderwould be
blamed and the bin would not be emptied.
You might wonder why anyone
would put "proper" waste in the recycling bin (grey), paper bin (green)
or garden bin (brown) belonging to someone else when they have bins of
their own? But with excess non-recyclable
waste in their overflowing black bins, some might dispose of that in the
grey, green or brown bins of other people.
Mostly waste bins are kept in
peoples' back yards where they are presumably safe from being
"contaminated" - but are they?
On "bin days" the bins are put
out on the street in front of houses to be emptied by the refuse teams.
and I have heard of people complaining about their bins being used as
litter bins as people walk past before the bins are taken back off the
street. Indeed, it has happened to my bin(s).
Some people have been taking the
bug off their bins - one is reported to have burned the whole bin -and
either returning them to the borough council or leaving them in the
offices of the local newspapers. Leaving themselves open for a charge of
criminal damage, I would have thought.
The council has asked people not to
remove the chips, saying the bins are paid for by council taxpayers.
One of the first tales that went
around (later denied, as I said) was that the council would know if
recyclable waste was disposed of in the black (non-recyclable) bins.
Having provided colour-coded bins, you can understand the council being
miffed if residents don't play ball. They are under pressure to recycle a
certain percentage of waste.
Maybe the bin bugs don't "know" the
address of the householder, but does no-one have a combined list of bin
identification numbers and house numbers? My bins have my house
number in plastic letters on them - a much easier way of doing it. Other
people paint the house number on their bins, all in the interest of
getting their own bin back after the refuse teams have been round.
I don't know what the bugs cost,
but the plastic
letters cost me just a few pence. Maybe it
would have been cheaper and caused a lot less hassle to issue
householders with the appropriate numbers. Perhaps the council felt some
people wouldn't put them on, or - worse still - take them off! Not that
the harder task of removing the bugs daunted some people.
I am totally in favour of
recycling what materials can be recycled, so I think it is a great shame
that there is so much bother over the operation.
But there are other niggles . . .
plastics cannot be recycled. Funny, I thought plastic was plastic - it all
comes from the same source, crude oil, doesn't it? So why doesn't it all
melt down to the same product for reusing?
for the moment, has to go to recycling centres. Not that I seem to use
foil is not acceptable (I recall my father religiously collecting tin foil
and taking it to a lady in Crewe), although I believe some charity shops
may accept it.
people who meticulously keep their wheelie bins spotless get annoyed
when the refuse men leave them dirty, presumably contamination from the refuse
people don't recycle newspapers (many people don't buy newspapers; shame!)
or the council underestimated how many we would put out. The five-weekly
collection cycle has now been changed to every six weeks. That means I
shall have to take any excess to one of the recycling centres.
UPDATE (June 2017): What can and cannot
be taken has changed since I wrote this Letter. Currently we are being
told to "Leave it Loose" as regards the recycling bin. That is, don't
put items in plastic bags to keep them together.
That would be fine except that
shredded paper (letters containing personal details) are, presumably,
also included. I used to put shredded paper into plastic bags to keep it
all together - easier to sort for one thing I would have thought - but I
can do as I'm told if that's what the recycling firms want . . . !
also this letter.