How is your rubbish collected at the moment? Do you wheel your wheelie bin out to the road and leave it there for the council’s lorry to drive up and the dustmen to hop out to empty it? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a well-known and well-worn concept that has been working for decades (ever since 1875, in fact).
But did you know that although local authorities are obliged to collect your rubbish and take it away (that’s all thanks to the 1848 Public Health Act), they don’t have to do it from outside your home. And some local councils across the UK have decided that they aren’t going to anymore – instead, they have requested that residents take their waste to a central collection point. Doorstep collections of bin bags have been completely cancelled in some areas of Lancashire, for example.
This new scheme has outraged hundreds of householders who find that they now have to take their rubbish much (much) further than the kerbside – some have to potentially wheel their bins as much as a mile from their home. To top it all off, these collections would be fortnightly rather than weekly, which would mean there would be double the amount of rubbish to take!
So what is the reason behind this sudden change? It turns out that it is mainly to do with the roads themselves. Council lorries can happily trundle along adopted road (that is, roads that are sponsored by companies or individuals, or roads that the council are responsible for directly) as they tend to be in reasonable condition. Unmade roads – roads that don’t tend to be adopted – are a different matter. Full of potholes, covered in mud, they can cause some serious damage to council vehicles. And that’s why local authorities aren’t so keen on their bin lorries driving up and down them anymore. Repairs to tyres alone are costing a pretty penny.
It’s almost understandable
But it’s entirely impractical. What about the elderly or the disabled who physically cannot wheel their rubbish any further than their front gate? And what about those who have to be at work before the collection time, or parents on the school run? Although a neighbour might happily wheel a second bin down to the kerb, making two journeys to a collection point could be stretching a favour a little too far.
The council in Blackburn who is trialling this new (and unwelcome) scheme has said that anyone who cannot get to the collection point due to frailty, illness, or any kind of vulnerability will be able to obtain help and that, for the most part, their current collection arrangements will stay in place.
Of course, this begs the question: if the lorries are still going to be driving up and down unmade roads, why not collect everyone’s rubbish and not disrupt the status quo?
It is uncertain at the moment whether this new idea will be rolled out across the country, but if it is, there will be very many disputes and issues accompanying it. Sometimes it is best to leave things as they are, and this is – it would seem – one of those cases.