Wheelie Bins: The Good, The Bad, and the Barely Believable
They aren’t the most aesthetically attractive items, but whether you like them or not, wheelie bins are a part of our lives. For an unassuming piece of plastic, wheelie bins appear in our headlines often, and not always for the best of reasons.
Most recently, cuts to council budgets have forced them to impose changes on residents, from providing them with bins they don’t want, to reducing the frequency of bin collections. Wheelie bins have become a bit of a headache for some residents.
The only people who get away with not having bins are people who live in areas which are ‘not suitable’, because they are inaccessible for refuse vehicles, for example.
Some love them, some hate them
Wheelie bin critics say that they clutter up the streets and spoil the look of properties and gardens. They also pose an obstacle for residents who have to navigate around them and sometimes have to walk on the road to do so. Campaigners have complained on behalf of parents with pushchairs, and elderly and disabled people. They say that when people have no front gardens, that wheelie bins are just left out on the pavement.
The advocates say that the bins are practical, and stop wildlife getting to rubbish.
When wheelie bin popularity goes downhill
Plans to introduce wheelie bins to all households in Malvern in Worcestershire had to be abandoned because of concerns that they would just roll down the town’s steep hills.
And sometimes they are used for questionable purposes...
Wheelie bins have been used by thieves to steal goods, they are often set on fire by vandals, and police in South Yorkshire have revealed that some teenagers have even been getting high on toxic wheelie bin fumes!
But they can be a business opportunity
Enterprising people have spotted business opportunities in the increasing amount of wheelie bins. From wheelie bin cleaners to wheelie bin sticker companies; they provide a good living for some people.
Bin brother is watching you
Privacy campaigners claim that increasing numbers of local councils are installing microchips in wheelie bins to keep track of how much waste households throw away.
The Big Brother Watch group claims that 68 UK local authorities now have the technology. The councils claim that they are using them to identify which house a bin belongs to, however, campaigners claim they are using them to impose fines on households who don’t recycle enough.
In Bristol, a pilot scheme is being set up to monitor how much waste residents throw away, and those who throw less waste away are rewarded.
The city council has applied to the government to become the first local authority to trial such a scheme.
Campaigners argue that councils could use the technology to penalise those who throw away a lot of waste, which will most likely be those with large families.
In 2007, the government raised the prospect of households that produce the most waste being charged a penalty for doing so, but it was met with strong opposition.
Incentives to change behaviour
Some critics have said that if people found that they were, in effect, being charged for throwing rubbish away, they would resort to fly-tipping or burning their rubbish. Though there is support for schemes that allow residents to opt in to a rewards scheme.
The borough of Windsor and Maidenhead rewards people with shopping vouchers if they manage to increase the amount they recycle. Rewards schemes which are incentive based go some way to reducing the waste that is sent to landfill and changing behaviours.
A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs said that the microchips were not intended to spy on people so they can fine them, but rather it will help councils to see where improvements need to be made to reduce waste and recycle more. They add that the information gathered from the chips will allow savings to be made on the collection of waste, and this could eventually help to keep council tax down.