Wheelie bins update

By on 02/04/2013 in Blog, Cllr McKay

Cllr James Mckay outlines preparations for the forthcoming wheelie bins pilot in two Birmingham wards – and just why Birmingham is changing the way waste is collected in the city.

Cllr James McKay

Cllr James McKay

Since the announcement in October that the council had won £30m cash from the Government to protect weekly bin collections a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes, ready for the pilot introduction of wheelie bins in two wards in the city, Brandwood and Harborne.

Before I outline how it's going to operate in Birmingham I would like to set out again why we are doing this:

  • Our current system is just not affordable. It costs us £60m per year to manage our city's rubbish, and due to pressures on the service, including a rising population, by 2018/19 there will be a substantial shortfall in the funding needed to meet the costs of managing waste.
  • On top of this, the budget that the council actually controls will have almost halved by then -  in effect we are becoming a ‘50%’ council. We need to bring all our costs down.
  • Recent reports by the District Auditor have made clear that our bin service costs more per head of population than in comparable places. Again, we have to save money, or make even deeper cuts everywhere else.
  • With the Government money, we can now invest in millions of pounds of vital new infrastructure, and modern lorries, providing an efficient, modernised service we can actually afford

Let's be honest, at the moment we're poor at recycling in Birmingham, and unfortunately we’re in the worst performing 25% of cities in the UK – in fact we produce more rubbish per household than any other large city in the country.

This doesn't just matter because of the environment, important though that is.  Bad recycling rates cost us money, and that's money we no longer have.

82% of local authorities across the country have introduced wheelie bins – including all of the top 100 performers for rubbish reduction - and all the evidence shows that they have had a significant effect on improving recycling rates, and also bring cleaner streets, free from piles of unsightly, torn bin bags which blight neighbourhoods. We do all we can to keep our streets clean, but the current system of bags makes this an almost impossible job.

We've been talking to as many people as possible across the city since the announcement and I know it's a big change in the way people are used to having their rubbish collected.

That's why we want to make sure that every household gets the service that suits them best.

So, how will it work?

The new system will be rolled out across the whole of the city over the next two years, and as previously mentioned we are kicking off with the pilot in Brandwood and Harborne.

Right now we're assessing properties in those two areas to see what is the best solution for them, with options for larger or smaller rubbish and recycling bins, depending on the size of the household.

Of course, every household is different and there will be a few properties that just aren't suitable for wheelie bins, and some residents who will need help in managing their bins.  After the assessment postcards will be delivered to each home which will make it absolutely clear which properties are considered suitable to have bins or not – properties that are suitable will receive a green card containing further information, while those judged unsuitable will receive a red card containing more details – while an assisted collection service will ensure that people who are unable to manage their bins won't miss out.

If you haven't already please let us know your views by completing the online survey at opinionresearch.co.uk/birminghamwheeliebins or look out for printed copies in your nearest library or customer service centre.

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There Are 6 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Kaysor Ahmed says:

    Pied piper of Birmingham=wheelie bin?

    Can I have a wheelie bin now before the trial please?

    I know it’s going to be a good thing as it’ll prevent cats, rats, foxes etc from causing a mess and disease reduced, who knows maybe we’ll rid the city of the vermin.

  2. office cleaning birmingham says:

    We are defiantly lacking in terms of recycling rates in Birmingham. However I believe change is happening.

  3. Jon Hunt says:

    James, you say the new system is efficient and will save money. Yet questions at district and scrutiny committees have confirmed repeatedly that the collection costs of emptying wheelie bins will be significantly greater. Your savings come only if you succeed in reducing the amount of rubbish collected and reducing the charges levied by the Tyseley incinerator – and these charges are based on a contract signed as long ago as 1994.

  4. Cyril says:

    Perhaps someone could inform the masses how many residents in the pilot schemes have already asked for ‘ assisted collections ‘ and what the projection rate is for ‘ assisted collections ‘ when all of Birmingham is wheelie binned ?If you are having to put in place more ‘assisted collections ‘ then obviously this will take up more time of the refuse people and will cost more money.I expect to have my Wednesday weekly wheelie bin rubbish collected sometime on Friday or even into the following week, when this finally gets off the ground.Saving money ? By the time this council have finished, the money saved will.be minimal and the recycling rate will probably go up a fraction if any at all.

    • geoffc says:

      We already offer assisted collections as part of the existing sacks and boxes scheme, and we have made a clear commitment that if households have no-one within them that can handle wheelie bins, we will continue to offer this option.
      In terms of the pilot wards, following the street-by-street survey, we have received 279 requests for assisted collections in Brandwood, and 166 similar requests in Harborne. These will all be looked at on a case-by-case basis before a final decision is made.
      We’ve never said there is a one size fits all solution to refuse collection, but would again reiterate that 82 per cent of local authorities run wheelie bin schemes. This is not something that is new or radical, but we do know that the top 100 councils for recycling all use some form of wheelie bin scheme.
      We are in the bottom 25 per cent of councils for recycling performance – we need to make a change, and the Government backed our proposals by giving us the money to implement this scheme.

  5. Cyril says:

    geoffc.You must surely have some projection figures concerning how many more extra requested assisted collections will be needed when the whole of Birmingham is wheelie binned ?What is that projection and how much extra will that cost and how much more time will be have to put aside by the refuse people who carry them out ? I have no absolutely interest in this constant spin about other councils . I am concerned about what is good for the city of Birmingham and the practicality of it all, which seems to be have been completely overlooked in this desperate rush to get things up and running and even though residents have not even been asked in the first place whether they think it is a good idea or not.If residents in the pilot schemes have requested an assisted collection,why then do they have to go through yet another level of bureaucracy to determine whether their request is valid and decided on by the council on a case by case basis ?As I say with the lack of attention to detail, the amount money saved by rolling all this out will be absolutely miniscule.I have absolutely no confidence in how this project is being administered.