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 number.
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 feel 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 householder would
I can't see that anyone would put
"proper" waste in the recycling bin (grey), paper bin (green) or garden
bin (brown) belonging to someone else - and it wouldn't be the end of the
world if they did. (Unless it caused the lid of the bin to be sticking up;
an offence which means the bin would not be emptied). But why would they
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. (Ditto the above overfilling
I have been concerned about
people disposing of illegal items as they walk past my bin(s) that I have
put out for the binmen and me being accused of doing it. Not that I am
aware of anyone dropping used drug needles, weapons, porn tapes and the
like in wheelie bins left on the street. But that unlikely scenario apart,
someone could throw away the "wrong" type of waste in my grey bin, say,
(using it as a street waste bin) while walking past it. Who would be in
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 by a particular year (sorry to be vague).
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 collectors 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
cannot leave the bins on the street before the designated day (following a
warning from the fire service about bin fires) and have to get up earlier than you might like to in order catch
the teams arriving at around 7am. Can't they alter the arrival time
occasionally so that we all get a lie-in in turn?
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.
It will be interesting to see how
the situation is resolved.
removed the picture that used to be here, showing plastics that I thought
could not be recycled (being the "wrong kind of plastic"), because I found
the recycling mark on some of them. Apologies to all concerned.
also this letter.