Blaise Tapp: Do we really need spies in our wheelie bins?

Recycling has become a feature of modern life.
Recycling has become a feature of modern life.
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What does your bin say about you?

Are you a householder whose waste receptacle bulges at the seams like Mr Creosote’s trousers, pre-dining room explosion, or someone who decorates theirs with pretty stickers and spends hours making sure the waste inside is pristine and ready for the refuse afterlife?

Like many, I have done my bit and have obediently separated food waste from its cartons for years and, I am almost ashamed to admit publicly, we have even started washing out used tins and cans, so as to avoid three day old bean juice or rancid Lilt sullying the old copies of Take A Break.

In my teens and early twenties, recycling was something done by people who routinely used joss sticks or listened to Dido on the sly but the masses finally caught on and after the protests at the reduction in size of our ‘black’ bins and the introduction of boxes, and bins with green and brown lids. Putting rubbish in the right place is part of everyday life for millions of us who want to at least feel like they are helping to save the planet, even if they are unsure whether at least some of the rubbish they sort doesn’t end up in landfill after all.

Recycling is a sign of growing up, partly because, so we are told, most people under the age of 30 still live at home and therefore it is officially a dad’s job to both fill and put out the bins, and because on becoming a parent, most of us are overcome with the overwhelming realisation that we have done naff all to preserve the planet for future generations.

Given the fact that non-recyclers are firmly in the minority, it doesn’t stop local authorities from pursuing ‘bin sinners’ with such vigour that, on occasion,‘offenders’ are fined or even taken to court for not sorting their trash properly.

Now one council, Hull, is leading the latest charge against the refuse refuseniks and has sent out thousands of letters warning people if they don’t wash remove baked bean residue from cans or the brown sludge from the neck of the discarded ketchup bottle then they run the risk of losing at least one of their bins.

It seems a tad extreme to me, and doesn’t make sense because if you take away a bin then the temptation for some would be to dump any untraceable rubbish, which would mean more work and expense for the council.

Of course, if the warnings have the desired effect then other councils, possibly yours, could follow suit.

For many years now millions have lived in the knowledge that our bins have been fitted with microchips which could, if they were activated, monitor what we throw away.

While most of us understand there are huge pressures to meet green targets, it is puzzling that so many councils invest significant amounts in policing waste, especially when, in the main, we are officially a nation of bin lovers.