Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gary goes to Parliament to rubbish wheelie-bins...

The contrasting methods local councils in Lincolnshire deal with householders waste were discussed in Parliament on Monday when Gary Porter gave evidence to an all-party Select Committee.

Gary, a Spalding councillor and Conservative Leader of South Holland District Council, rubbished the so-called 'Alternate Weekly Collections' adopted by many other councils, including here in neighbouring South Kesteven.

Here, the council are in the process of rolling out twin-wheelie-bins to every householder: silver for everything that can be recycled and black for waste destined for landfill.

Gary pointed to evidence from Bedfordshire that showed some people dumped waste food in their wheelie-bins meant for recycling because they objected to having it waiting up to a fortnight to be collected. This contamination means up to 15 per cent of entire loads of otherwise recycleable material actually end up in landfill.

Gary also claimed that if waste food is left for a fortnight before collection, we could expect
third world diseases that should never be in our country.
Scary. I guess the proof of the pudding will be a hot summer...

The jury's also out on which system will achieve the highest rate of genuine recycling.

For as well as black bags for waste, South Holland are introducing a 'clear plastic bag' policy for recycleable items. That's as transparent as you can get!

Gary's approach to green waste was also no-nonsense. He told the Select Committee that the whole idea was to cut down on the amount of waste collected - recycled or landfilled. He went on:
We don't collect green waste. The best place for garden waste is a compost heap in a corner of the garden where it is produced.
Some years ago, I recall being given a lift in a neighbour's car and couldn't help commenting on the pungent smell of freshly mown grass.

My neighbour apologised for the pong, explaining that he was a keen environmentalist so took his lawn clippings to Dogsthorpe every time he used the mower.

He clearly hadn't taken into account the damage to the environment of his weekly 15-mile round car journey to the tip. Besides, I hadn't the heart to tell him that his lawn would be greener and healthier if he didn't deny it of the nutrients in the clippings.

Even worse, his black bag of clippings ended up as landfill!

8 comments:

Liz said...

All well and good Phil. However, he failed to state that South Holland has not met the very low 25% recycling rate set by government. The last report stated that they would achieve a 21% rate. Many comparable councils achieve 40%! The council were also criticised for not having a kerbside green waste scheme. One pays £1.50 for a bag to have this collected. South Holland has an elderly population and not everyone has the "corner" to dispose of garden waste. As well people are anxious about garden bonfires. Many councils do offer green waste disposal and a Christmas collection to remove festive trees! We have one skip a fortnight in the summer and once a month in the winter. This is good but individuals do not have the space to allow waste to accumulate to fit in with skip delivery so drive the 10 miles to the nearest recycling centre.

Councils who provide bins achieve a much higher rate of recycling. I loathe black bags and small boxes. The bags are attacked by animals overnight in my area. Before you say put them out in the morning - our collection is very early and everyone places bags out the evening before. The boxes which will soon become plastic bags have been a nightmare. People do not always bag surplus material properly and when windy it goes everywhere.

I have just completed a questionairre for LCC about recycling. I filled the form in and added lots of comment! I look forward to reading the results of the consultation in due course. It would be a disaster if the County had heavy fines imposed (directed by the EU) because of the lack of recycling facilities. This will certainly happen if South Holland's rate is common throughout the county?

Brynley said...

Liz, the plastic bags are certainly vulnerable to dogs, foxes, rats, but at least you get a collection.


Common sense says that fornightly collection of perishables in wheelie bins is going to hit trouble during a sustained period of warm weather.

I heard Ben Bradshaw, the Minister for Wheelie Bins, interviewed by James Naughtie today on Radio 4.

Sorry to say, he got it hopelessly wrong. He clearly doesn't understand (or doesn't want to understand) his own brief.

He repeatedly said that wheelie bins were fitted with bar codes.

We all know what a bar code is.

So Ben Bradshaw, how come I found two multi-concentric copper ring terminals with attendand antennae in my South Kesteven wheelie bins?

Dave Pearson said...

Common sense says that fornightly collection of perishables in wheelie bins is going to hit trouble during a sustained period of warm weather.

What does "common sense" actually say? Why is a maximum of 1 week in a bag that can be (and often was) attacked by animals, spewing the rotting rubbish all over the garden and requiring cleaning (or, as happened with us, ending up in an arms race with what I took to be a fox given how clever it was at getting into the bin I was keeping the bag in) okay whereas a maximum of 2 weeks in a bin that's hard to attack bad?

Does "common sense" inform us as to what the acceptable cut-off time is? If so, what is it? Does it also tell us what the actual dangers are? If so, what are they?

Brynley said...

Dave, I use the chicken carcass barometer.

Cook it in a wheelie bin.

Quite right, you could be in trouble after just one week if the weather is really warm.

But with fortnighly collections and you miss one due to holidays or failing to put the bin out, that chicken is in there for a month.....

You do need a weekly collection in Summer, at least in flats and in built-up areas.

Dave Pearson said...

I'm not entirely convinced by this. That's an argument in favour of people not being wasteful and throwing out whole chicken carcasses (to use your example).

Isn't there something a little more factual available that actually demonstrates the alleged dangers and shows why weekly collection is good but a collection every other week is bad?

Using "I missed a collection!" as an argument doesn't seem too convincing either given that it would run into the "I've had this for two weeks, and that's terrible" zone anyway.

Brynley said...

Dave, if it's a micobiological answer you are looking for, may I refer you to weeklywaste.com and associated links.

The test will come when the weather gets hot.

I guess flat dwellers and people in densely built-up areas will be the canaries who go down the mine.

[By the way Dave, Hi, we are neighbours. You live in Billingborough? I live in Aslackby]

Dave Pearson said...

Thanks for the pointer, I'll have a read.

The problem I have with this is that many of the problems being spoken of tend to be bold claims with few facts to back them up (note how the site you link to shouts about, in nice bold caps, "A 21st CENTURY PLAGUE"). It's not a terribly satisfying argument (but neither was the argument from the Labour chap I saw on the news last night who kept insisting that the possible introduction of extra charging was "a reward scheme").

[And, yeah, hi there neighbour]

Brynley said...

Well, yes, the attempt to rebrand Pay per Throw as a reward scheme is just too cynical.

After all, David Miliband does plan to introduce rubbish collection charges and also charges at the recycle dump.

Which raises an interesting question about the future of supermarket and parish recycle dumps.