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One of the largest strides in successful citywide recycling comes down to getting across the message and encouraging citizens to actually get into the habit of using their recycling bins for recyclable goods, many of which are lumped in with regular rubbish and disposed of indiscriminately.
That's why Belfast City Council has put a new order of business on the table suggesting a new kind of rubbish math that puts together the following equation: subtract from wheelie bin dimensions, add onto recycling amounts.
Smaller standard black wheelie bins will force citizens to pay more attention to the rubbish they throw away by preventing the present largeness of the bins from holding all manners of both rubbish and recycling without overflowing.
It's an elegant and simple solution to a rather "trashy" problem.
For more information on sizing, check out our guide on Wheelie Bin Sizes.
For the city of Belfast, providing citizens with recycling bins has not promoted enough recycling. Current estimates put the recyclable wastes of the Northern Ireland capital at 70% capacity, but the city is performing well below 50% of that margin. These facts and figures mean that Belfast is producing a great deal of waste which it doesn't need to be, which puts the criticism squarely on citizens who are indiscriminately throwing their rubbish into their tall wheelie bins and dumping a negligible amount of recyclable goods into the recycling bins. Belfast is outfitted with enough recycling services and bins to reach their EU standard by 2020, but now it's a matter of getting everyday people to tighten up their habits and make use of their resources.
Rubbish controversies throughout the UK typically call for radical revisions, spending provisions and green campaigns, but the Belfast Council's solution takes the chance that a very small adjustment can have a very large impact. The Department of Environment found that the vast majority of city citizens liked recycling and wanted to recycle – roughly 90% of the people surveyed expressed enthusiasm, which means that it's up to the Council to give their people the gentle nudge they need without offending their sensibilities by overhauling recycling systems or sending out recycling brochures to emphasize the impact of reducing the city's waste production.
The indirect recycling goals for this reduction of wheelie-bin size are modest as well. Ricky Burnett, a policy and operations head working at a local waste management group, suggests the government's target is 45% by 2015. It will take some doing to manufacture and allocate newer, smaller rubbish bins, and it will take some time for the public to change their habits and begin putting more effort into sorting out their recycling from their rubbish, but the potential impacts of this manoeuvre are welcome and laudable.
If the Belfast City Council can motivate their people to discriminate more with their recycling habits without the use of expensive campaigns and educational actions, this might open up a new avenue for other UK cities to adopt as well. The large dimensions of rubbish bins were introduced when recycling was at its infancy, and the cutting down of those dimensions might just prove to be an ingenious solution to recycling malaise.