Kirklees Council: Recycling row over green bin ‘fiasco’

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Green bins in Kirklees

Image caption

The move aims to improve Kirklees’ recycling rate, which lags behind the national average

A council’s decision to confiscate recycling bins if people put the wrong sort of rubbish in them has sparked fierce debate.

Since April, “advisers” have accompanied collectors in Kirklees to check green bins, with stickers placed on those containing incorrect items.

After two warnings, bins may be taken away for six months.

Kirklees Council said early signs were “very positive” but some residents called the system a “fiasco”.

Image caption

Residents who put incorrect items in their green bin will find a yellow sticker on the lid

The council calculated its move means 45 to 85 additional tonnes of waste are being recycled each week – the equivalent of between nine and 17 bin wagons.

The district’s recycling rate is 27%, falling well below the national average of 45%, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But Jo Bersee-Mills, who lives in Almondbury and has received one yellow sticker, called it “fiasco”.

She said: “It seems utterly ridiculous, I understand the reason is to try to improve recycling rates, but by confiscating somebody’s bin for six months it will probably make things much worse.

“Everything goes in the grey bin now, it’s just not worth the hassle because at least you know with the grey bin it will be emptied.”

Image caption

Jo Bersee-Mills, from Almondbury, says the “punitive” measure could have the opposite effect the council intends

Repeat offending items in Huddersfield and Holme Valley green bins include soiled nappies, food waste, glass and black bin liners.

The new system has cost Kirklees Council £80,000, but the authority said it could eventually save £440,000 by educating the public on how to properly recycle.

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Reacting on social media, Debbie Crawford said: “I got a yellow sticker on mine this week due to someone placing a pancake packet in the top of it maybe on their way past.”

Rachel Murray posted: “It would be helpful if the council said what was in there and not allowed when they send letters.”

But Sheila Brogan defended the move, saying: “Stop blaming others, it’s not hard to put rubbish in the correct bin.”

Kirklees green bin dos and don’ts

Yes

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Junk mail and envelopes
  • Cardboard
  • Telephone directories
  • Books (remove hardback covers first)
  • Plastic bottles with caps removed
  • Drinks cans, food tins and empty aerosols

No

  • Glass
  • Yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic trays and polystyrene
  • Plastic carriers and film
  • Videotapes
  • Drink cartons
  • Foil
  • Clothing and textiles
  • Food, garden and wood waste
  • Nappies
  • Shredded paper

Labour councillor Naheed Mather said it may seem counter-intuitive to confiscate bins but it was making a difference.

She said: “When someone puts something which can’t be recycled in a green bin, it contaminates everything else in the wagon once it’s collected.

“This basically means that everyone else’s efforts to recycle are completely lost as it all then has to be treated as general waste.”

The Green group on the council said it would be happy to help residents who have had bins taken away get them back.

But Conservative Bernard McGuin said: “I am getting so many complaints about the way it’s being operated.

“We should be increasing our recycling rates but punishing people like this is not the way to do it.”

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