Friday, January 9, 2009

Giant street bin takes over from doorstep collections

January 9, 2009

Giant street bin takes over from doorstep collections

David Brown
Doorstep rubbish collections are being scrapped with families being required instead to use huge communal bins in a scheme that might be introduced across the country.

Brighton & Hove City Council will begin installing 3,200-litre communal bins in 500 streets next week – one for every 40 homes. For some residents the bins will be 150 yards away. Once the scheme is ready, dustmen will no longer remove black sacks from outside homes.

The system, which will leave 27,000 families without weekly collections, is being watched closely by other councils and some towns are already preparing similar arrangements.

Brighton council has calculated that introducing the communal bins, which will cost £615,000, will save £970,000 over seven years.

Times Archive, 1885: Domestic dustbins
The domestic dustbin is no a very savoury subject but for householders it is an important one, at once a necessity and a nuisance

Letter to the editor: The law as to dustbins
Letter to the editor: Dustbins
Letter to the editor: Noisy dustcarts
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Waste campaigners said yesterday that the change could signal the end of traditional rubbish collections, which date back more than 130 years. Supporters say that communal bins, common on the Continent, are more convenient and lead to tidier streets.

Doretta Cocks, founder of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: “I wonder if we will eventually see the end of the doorstep rubbish collections. People don’t realise how much they value the service until it has gone. They have got used to putting the bin on the doorstep and having it removed every week.”

More than a half of local authorities have already reduced rubbish collections from weekly to fortnightly.

Eric Pickles, the Shadow Environment Secretary, said that the communal bin scheme was another attack on traditional rubbish collections.

“Across the country, councils are being forced to cut back on rubbish collections, from reducing their frequency to banning bin bags next to wheelie bins, to reducing bin capacity,” he said. “Frontline services are being axed, while council tax goes up year on year, with new bin taxes on top around the corner. People must fork out a fortune in council tax under this Government. Hard-working families deserve decent services in return.”

Communal bins are already used in blocks of flats and some inner-city areas, including parts of Westminster and Edinburgh. But campaigners believe that the Brighton scheme will be used as a trial for a much wider use.

Hastings and St Leonards, in East Sussex, has said that the bins could be introduced in some areas this summer. Brighton & Hove council says that Cardiff has sought advice on the scheme. The new bins were being introduced after a successful trial that began in 2004, it said.

Unlike black sacks, which are frequently ripped open by seagulls and foxes, communal bins are a secure way of storing rubbish, it insists.

The system also means that people will no longer have to store a week’s rubbish at home as it can be placed in a communal bin on any day. The council said that it was trying to place the bins on double yellow lines or on wide pavements, but admitted that some parking spaces had been lost.

The new bins are being introduced primarily in areas where there are large numbers of flats or houses with limited of space for wheelie bins. Refuse collectors will continue to collect recycling boxes from outside homes.

The Local Government Association supports the scheme, but says that the choice of rubbish collection system should be decided locally. “You cannot prescribe from the centre that every single home must have a bin which must be emptied every week,” a spokesman said.

Environmental campaigners fear a reduction in recycling. Caroline Lucas, the Green Party leader and South East MEP, said that families might find it harder to separate items daily and the large size of the bins could encourage wastefulness.

The story so far . . .

1297 The law requires householders to keep front of house clear of refuse

1354 “Rakers” are employed in each London ward to rake rubbish together and remove it once a week

1407 Household rubbish required to be kept indoors until removed by the rakers

1408 Removal order by Henry IV says forfeits will be paid if refuse is not removed

1848 Public Health Act gives councils the power to provide dustbins

1875 Public Health Act makes it the councils’ duty to arrange the removal and disposal of waste

1914 Dustbins introduced by many councils. Because the bins are heavy, backdoor collection is common

1922 First petrol-powered refuse vehicle used

1936 Public Health Act gives councils new power on collection of rubbish

1977 Bottle banks are introduced

Sources: Times archives,

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