So it’s happening: brown bins will no longer automatically be emptied nor compostable waste collected by St Edmundsbury borough council. Instead a new service will be available at an annual charge of £40, with provision for future increases up to £50. (It will be interesting to see how the new scheme will be policed – watch out for bin men/ladies with lists?)
I found it fairly simple to sign up to this service, although some will baulk at the 70p admin charge for credit card payment – perhaps already dropped, as it was not taken in my case. It’s harder completely to withdraw from it, as brown bins currently being used will not be collected by the council. (This led one wag to seek £40 compensation for looking after what is, after all, council property.)
My own complaint is about the substantial reduction in the way brown bins may now be used. It will no longer be permissible to include kitchen waste, food, plate scrapings, tea bags, coffee grounds, cardboard, newspaper or shredded paper. For most people this will surely be a serious drawback to the service.
In reply to my tweets, the council claims that ‘changes to legislation over how food waste is treated’ prevent kitchen waste being included, even ‘fruit peelings’. It also says that what has previously been acceptable waste is not suitable for the ‘wind row’ type of composting that will process the contents of our brown bins in future. No doubt there is a good reason for this, but it does seem unfortunate that a contractor who would accept the existing brown bin waste could not again be engaged, especially now that the service is no longer ‘free’.
I can understand that animal waste and real kitchen waste might be treated differently from garden waste; indeed the former has only been accepted in recent years. But I find it hard to believe that whilst fruit and vegetables ‘from your garden’ can be put in the bin, those bits of it that are peeled before consumption (e.g. from apples, bananas, oranges) are apparently banned.
I tweeted that I paid my £40 ‘with a heavy heart’. It would have been a lot lighter if I were paying for the full existing service rather than a markedly inferior one. Something of a double-whammy.