The wheelie bin call in was rejected, so Labour will be going ahead with introducing them – to the annoyance of many people including myself. Whilst it’s true many other parts of the country have them, I’m not sure how many places have to have three per house as Labour are planning on introducing in Birmingham. The two other areas which I know about certainly don’t – they have a mixture of wheelie bins(s) and boxes.
It was made quite clear at the Scrutiny meeting that the aim is to increase recycling rates, and the way Labour want to do that it is to limit the amount of black bag waste that can be put out to what will fit in a wheelie bin AND NO MORE (unlike the system run by the Conservatives where we took away as much of everything – black bag waste and recycling – as people put out providing it was in bags). Cllr McKay said this on several occasions with comments such as “You need to go from an unlimited residual waste collection to a limited residual waste collection so it will raise recycling.”
To my mind, what is really important is reducing the amount going to landfill, and this was very low in Birmingham under the Conservatives Unfortunately it has increased since Labour took over (as was pointed out at the previous Council meeting in the questions section). They really are a complete disaster when it comes to dealing with refuse collection.
Cllr Ward (the Labour Deputy Leader) asserted strongly at the Scrutiny meeting that it was simply Conservative ideology which was behind the opposition to wheelie bins. I bet that’s news to the many people who are worried about how on earth they are going to manage three bins, and what an eyesore their road will look if people leave them outside the front (or how dangerous the pavements will be if people leave them there). No, Labour seem convinced there are no real drawbacks to the scheme – and dismiss the opposition as just Conservative ideology!
But back to Cllr McKay’s assertion that the Council must reduce the amount of residual waste collected to increase recycling. Unfortunately, the three wheelie bin system looks as if it will also reduce the amount of recycling collected too. For example, if before you were able to put out an unlimited amount of green waste (and many large houses in Edgbaston regularly put out a dozen or so bags) and in future you can only put what will fit in a wheelie bin, how is that going to increase recycling? Even upping the green collections from fortnightly to weekly in some areas wouldn’t cover it – and that would put up the collection costs too at a time when there is no money.
As Cllr Huxtable (the former Cabinet Member, who appears to have a lot more understanding of the situation than the current one) explained, tests show that people actually put more recycling in their black bag waste on the week when their recycling IS collected that when it’s not. Reason: because if they don’t ask for more boxes (which they could willingly do under the current system – well they always could under the Conservatives anyway) once they have filled their box(es) near to collection day – that’s when they chuck the rest in the black bag waste. NOT the week when they have no recycling collected but still have room to store it in their newly emptied box. So with a limited space in the wheelie bins, that scenario is likely to occur more often in the future – for green waste, paper and multi material.
However, Labour are determined to press ahead with this, despite the huge opposititon (as shown in the letters page of the newspapers etc.) and indeed Labour Councillors at the Scrutiny meeting were apparently so convinced the scheme is a good one that several put forward their wards for the pilot (they clearly can’t wait for their residents to get three wheelie bins per household). Sparkbrook and Ladywood were amongst the wards whose Councillors want them to be first.
Watch this space! When the pilot wards are announced, I will let you know – and I shall be watching to see how the scheme works in the areas chosen. Not that the introduction of the scheme across the rest of the city is dependent on it being successful in the two pilot wards – 0h no! (That would be sensible but this Labour Council isn’t). So it’s not really a pilot scheme as most people would think of it. More a phased compulsory introducton of 3 wheelie bins per household by a Labour Council intent on bulldozing ahead with a scheme despite the obvious opposition from many residents. Now that IS what I call ideology.