A Wheelie Bad Press Release

I could hardly believe my eyes (or my luck!) when I saw yesterday’s City Council press release on the subject of wheelie bins (which you can read on the Chamberlain Files website).

I have no idea who was responsible for it, but they clearly have little idea about journalism. Putting out a press release (as they did) which highlighted a few people from neighbouring authorities who apparently love their wheelie bins, was always going to open up the Council to ridicule.

A Labour Group who once brought us country wide fame (or should that be shame) with their Winterval press release, seems to be lurching from one PR disaster to another at the moment where wheelie bins are concerned. (e.g. the wheelie bin consultation which asked what your sexual orientation and religion was – but didn’t ask if you wanted a wheelie bin. That bit of Birmingham Labour stupidity made the national press.)

The comment from one resident that the thing she loved most about her wheelie bins was (wait for it!) the wheels, was probably the most laughable line. But the whole thing was just so clumsy. Whoever came up with that idea for a press release ought to have put it straight in the bin!

One resident quoted reckoned she recycles more now she has a wheelie bin, and Cllr McKay stated on the radio this morning that increasing the recycling rates was one of the main reasons wheelie bins are being introduced. That might have worked in Walsall – I don’t know what system they had prior to their bins. But in Birmingham we already have a very efficient recycling system.

Currently five twelfths of the recycling in Birmingham is green waste. It goes to make a nutrient rich soil conditioner which is used for agriculture and land reclamation as well as an ingredient in composts that you buy at the garden centre.

When Birmingham’s Labour Group introduces a charge for collecting green waste (as they plan to do in Feb 2014), the amount collected is bound to plummet. In other Councils which have done this, usually only one household in 5 opts in to the scheme. That means we will lose 80% of five twelfths of our recycling overnight.

We’re going to have to recycle an awful lot of something else, in order to get back to where we started, let alone start increasing the overall amount we recycle.

But Labour are going to limit the amount we can recycle to what we can fit in one recycling wheelie bin, unless it’s cardboard (not paper – just cardboard) or unless we opt to have a second recycling wheelie bin and I don’t think many people will do that. Currently Birmingham runs a system where you can apply for as many recycling boxes as you like, and put out as much as you like – in the boxes, or in your own boxes. I usually put out three/four boxes of paper and one of bottles and cans.

I’ve seen the new recycling bins (one was brought to the District Commitee). There’s no way I’ll get all that paper in one. So I will be recycling less, not more. And I won’t be the only one.

Now imagine that you have a load of paper which you can’t fit in your recycling bin. But you have a rubbish wheelie bin which takes more than one black sack did – so you have spare capacity in that. What are people going to do? I strongly suspect many will dump their excess recycling into the black bag rubbish wheelie bin. Which means that things they would have recycled under the old system, will end up being incinerated under the new system. How is that going to increase recycling rates?

These are serious questions which need to be addressed. Labour Councillors should be spending their time on that, not trawling round neighbouring authorities desperately seeking out people who are prepared to tell the press they love having a wheelie bin because it’s got wheels!

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