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Belfast council bans food in black bins

By Suzanne Breen

A ban on food waste in black bins could lead to vermin problems and fly-tipping, it has been warned.

Councillor Jolene Bunting was speaking after Belfast City Council approved new waste management measures.

The council is to write to householders warning them that bins will be monitored and those found to contain food waste after two breaches won't be emptied.

"I've serious concerns at how this will work out," the independent unionist councillor said.

"If bins aren't collected, it could cause vermin problems.

"And there will be householders who will take things into their own hands and fly-tip."

The proposal - which was supported by the People and Communities Committee last month - was approved by a full council meeting last night.

Under the new regulations, raw and cooked food waste must now go in brown bins. Householders will be given kitchen caddies and compostable bags to collect the material.

City Hall chiefs say that the initiative could lead to 1,500 tonnes of food waste being recycled - saving the council £800,000 in landfill charges every year.

A leaflet will warn householders that council staff will be "monitoring bins".

The first time that food waste is found in a black bin, a warning sticker will be placed on it.

On the second occasion, a letter will be sent to the offending householder.

After the third breach, the bin won't be emptied until the householder has removed the food waste.

Ms Bunting said: "There are people who won't read the leaflet.

"I'm also worried that some elderly and vulnerable people won't understand the consequences of non-compliance.

"I understand that the council has recycling targets to meet, but I fear that this will end up putting people off recycling.

"They're already asked to wash and remove the labels from cans."

SDLP councillor Declan Boyle said his previous concerns had been allayed after talking to council staff.

"The key is getting the message out clearly to the public," he added.

The move follows new legislation requiring the separate collection of food waste which will eventually be implemented by all councils across Northern Ireland.

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