Belfast Telegraph

Families rubbish plans for monthly black bin pick-ups

Fears Banbridge trial may be extended

By Adrian Rutherford

Fears are growing that bins could be emptied just once a month across Northern Ireland.

It comes after one council opted to cut back collections in some areas to every four weeks as part of a scheme to boost recycling.

Banbridge District Council piloted a monthly black bin collection service for 1,500 homes.

The council claimed that recycling rates rose almost 40% so the initiative was being expanded across other routes.

There are now fears the scheme could be rolled out across Northern Ireland, affecting every household.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment admitted it was likely other councils would follow suit.

"The responsibility for household waste collection services here rests with district councils," he said.

"We have no doubt that other councils will be interested in the outcomes achieved by this innovative approach in designing services which meet the needs of their residents and our common environmental goals."

But it will anger ratepayers who have seen fortnightly bin collections replace weekly collections in recent years.

And there are warnings that people could have to contend with six bins when EU-driven waste rules come into effect next January.

Ukip MLA David McNarry warned that meddling with our bins was a recipe for disaster.

"It really is an absolute nonsense. You need a bit of common sense here. This is just silly stuff.

"I just hope that ratepayers in my constituency – and I cover three council areas – don't have to entertain this nonsense."

Banbridge council first trialled monthly collections in January. The council claimed the response from householders was "overwhelmingly positive".

Yet news that the trial has been expanded across more routes led to a furious reaction from ratepayers, who branded it "disgraceful" and "clueless". One said: "My bin is full within two weeks and if it isn't emptied when it's full they can lift the rubbish off the street, because that's where I'll be emptying it."

A family-of-seven said they struggle to cope even with the current fortnightly collections.

"My recycling bins are full to the limit as it is with collections being every two weeks – it's going to be a nightmare if they are only emptied once a month," one said.

Another said: "£1,600 a year for rates and you can't even get your bin emptied? Disgrace."

However, Banbridge District Council defended the scheme.

Ulster Unionist councillor Carol Black said she thought it was a fantastic idea. She said: "As politicians, we need to start saving money.

"This is a good way of saving money and landfill is a waste of money. If your brown bin is heavier than your black bin, we're sorted."

David Lindsay, director of environmental services at the council, said: "Having developed a system that provides opportunities for a wide range of items and materials to be recycled at the kerbside, the council felt that there is now an over-supply of bin space and that too much of that is black bin space.

"The vast majority of waste generated in homes is recyclable – and if all recyclable waste is placed correctly into the green and brown bins, 240 litres of black bin space spread over a four-week period has been proven to be adequate for the remaining small fraction of non-recyclable waste."

Factfile

Banbridge District Council said the initial trial has had a "staggering positive impact" on recycling rates, pointing out:

  • Kerbside recycling rose by over 39% compared to the same period last year.
  •  Waste placed in black bins fell by over 50%.
  • Householders using their recycling bins significantly increased with the set-out rate of brown bins rising by over 15% and an increase of over 7% for green bins.
  •  The net cost for kerbside waste collections fell by 40%.

Further reading:

New EU rules may swamp us in recycling bins  

March of the plastic monoliths relentless 

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