Belfast council: We'll root through your black bins and stop collections if you dump food waste
Belfast City Council officials will be rooting through resident's black bins to make sure there is no food waste in them, the authority has warned.
The council is warning it's 'three strikes and your out' if food waste is found in a black bin.
It has written to the city's residents to inform them of the changes to bin collections in order to cut down on the £800,000 annual bill for sending food waste to landfill.
Officials are in the process of issuing advisory notices on bins to remind people of the changes and the consequences should they not comply.
The BBC's political correspondent Gareth Gordon was one such resident to have a notice placed on his bin. He took to Twitter to say neither his nor his neighbours' bins were emptied.
He suggested the city would end up smelling like Naples if the practice continued. The Italian city has often been the scene of numerous strikes by rubbish collectors meaning large mountains of rubbish gather on its streets.
The council said operational reasons meant bins were not collected in Mr Gordon's street and it was still in the process of advising people of the changes to waste collection.
Others took to social media to question how, if you put your food waste in black bin liners, the council will detect what exactly is in the bin.
A council spokesman confirmed that when enforcement comes into being, officials will root through bins and if they find food waste, warnings will be issued.
After a second warning, if food is found again, that bin will not be emptied and it will be up to the resident to deal with it ahead of the next collection in a fortnight's time. It could mean residents will be left with rubbish in their bin for at least a month.
He would not say when actual enforcement would start.
In a statement the council said: "As part of the changes we are introducing in relation to recycling food waste, council staff are currently placing advisory stickers on black bins. These stickers are a follow up to the letter residents received in April, and are not warnings, so there is no need to be alarmed by these advisory stickers.
"They are simply to remind residents that we no longer accept food waste in black bins, and that they should use their compost bins for the recycling food waste,
“As part of this new policy, we will give residents a little time to adjust to the changes before we start issuing warning stickers. If a resident is issued warning sticker in the future, will be clearly marked as being a warning. These warning stickers will also clearly state whether it is a first or second warning.
“A number of collections in some parts of Belfast were missed yesterday due to purely operational reasons. Affected residents should leave their bins out, and they will be collected in the next 48 hours.”