Time to bin council collections?
Do you think your local council deals with your household waste efficiently? Do you agree with the frequency of collections, the types of material you can recycle, the number of bins perched in your back – or front – yard?
If you put any of these questions to your average joe, you can be guaranteed of a response. It usually gets delivered in the form of an animated rant or a soul-searching interrogation: "Can't be bothered to recycle, it all goes to landfill anyway" or "Why are they shipping the stuff off to be dumped in China?" or "They won't take my bin because it's the wrong colour".
Everyone has an opinion on rubbish. Or more specifically, their own rubbish. Especially if it doesn't get collected for more than a week. It does beg the question – how much faith do householders have in their council-run waste collection services, and do they think these services could be improved upon?
A few weeks ago I interviewed a man who set up his own waste collection company borne out of these frustrations. It started when his council switched to fortnightly collections. He had a young family and was none too impressed to find they wouldn't offer him extra bins to help relieve the amount of waste his household was generating.
He had to sit on his bin lid each week to try and close it the night before the collection crew came – otherwise his bin wouldn't be emptied. "Nappies were exploding all over my legs, it wasn't a pretty sight," he told me.
Then came a scorcher of a summer and a maggot infestation which swiftly evolved into a mini crisis. His weekends were spent stuck in the car queuing up to dump his excess rubbish down the local tip – precious time he should have been spending with his family.
He needed help from his council, but wasn't getting any. So he decided to help himself – and others facing a similar predicament – and established a residential collection service which offers householders an alternative solution, tailored to their needs.
Four years on, and the company is doing well. It currently operates over 500 household waste collections a month and is looking to extend its reach further. There is obviously a need out there for such a service, and people are prepared to pay above and beyond their council tax for it.
So, my question is this. Are councils the best organisations to be handling our rubbish? Should it be taken out of their hands altogether and privatised? My interviewee thought so – he argued this would make waste collections not only more efficient, but better value for the householder. Do you agree? maxine perella