by Canon Roy Lawrence
Recently I attended a meeting at which a representative of the Council explained the
new dustbin policy. He was clearly very pleased with it. I have to say I did not share his
My mind goes back to the days when every house had a single metal dustbin and all the
rubbish went into it. Once a week a dustman came down the drive and collected the
bin from wherever we kept it. We thought a lot of our dustmen and regarded them with
a mixture of admiration for their muscles and gratitude for the service they gave us.
Lonnie Donegan’s song ‘My old man’s a dustman’ reflected all of this. And did you
know that one of Charles Dickens’ heroes was a dustman – Noddy Boffin in the novel
‘Our Mutual Friend’, which was subtitled ‘The Golden Dustman.’?
However times change, and the dustbin service changes with them. The old metal bins
were replaced with plastic wheelie bins. Householders were expected to push them
onto the pavement for collection and emptying. We were happy to do so.
Then dustbins started to multiply. The original green bins were joined by grey bins,
each for different types of rubbish, and each with a different collection day. Then a
brown bin was added for garden waste. In time we were told this would no longer be a
free service. Once again there were different days for different collections and these
days changed from time to time.
It was all rather confusing, and now to make it still more so two more bins are to be
added, an indoor one and an outdoor one. These will be for food waste, and once again
different bins will be emptied on different days and different weeks. It should increase
our recycled waste from 40% to 50%. Why am I not happy about it?
1) The system is already too complicated. In my own estate it is common to see the
wrong bin put out on the wrong day with all the complications this involves
2) The new system will involve not just extra dustbins but extra dustbin lorries, extra
staff and extra expense, just when we are told how hard up we are.
3) Nobody seems to be listening to us. Although the meeting I attended was billed as a
consultation, no one seemed to be listening to the many objections.
4) A recent survey shows that 15 other authorities have tried schemes like the one
proposed here, but abandoned them. Can we not learn from them?
There really does seem to be a good case for putting the whole scheme on
hold while we all allow ourselves some second thoughts.