An open letter to my Councillor.

To day for the second time since the scheme opened, my plastic and paper waste-bin has received a note of complaint due to ‘contamination’, this time by a tub. I am not an inveterate complainer, but I do expect logical, reasonable and courteous service, as I believe the residents to be the council’s employers.

The burning question in this case is when does a box become a tub, and what in fact constitutes a tub. Ice cream, and similar products come in tubs. I’m not entirely sure whether it was an empty egg box made of compressed paper, or the washed, bottom section of a plastic box that food is sent by carry-out establishments. Neither of these items would I have termed a tub. I found it interesting also that my neighbour had a tub that I couldn’t find when I looked in his bin.

The absurdity of this whole process is that the majority of us try to play by the rules, and if by some accident place on the very top of the bin, an article which is deemed to ‘contaminate’, itself an absurd phrase, when, if the offending article had been about four layers down in the bin it would never have been seen and had to be dealt with, and would have been dealt with at the receiving end. Nobody can convince me that the whole of a highly sophisticated recycling concept is going to come to a halt because somebody has placed, by accident, the bottom half of a plastic box. I can also understand that some people take advantage rather than play by the rules, and the council has to resist this, but I would not have thought it should be by a boorish note that does not make logical sense.

I believe the problem is to do more with the way that the men are paid, which I assume from everything I’ve seen of the way they work, is not by the hour but piecework. The only other time that the bin of mine was rejected was because lying on top was a piece of very light plastic film, half the size of a pocket-handkerchief, which presumably had blown in when the bin was open. To me this is a pettifogging rule, that a small piece of plastic, which could have been lifted out, and put in a container on the lorry specifically for that reason, causes rejection. I hardly think it would have represented a serious problem at the plant. . On one other occasion my green bin was rejected because, over the fortnight that it had been standing full, it had compacted to an extent that prevented it from being emptied in the conventional manner. As you know I’m in the late 80s, with serious spinal and hip problems, and having to empty that myself and refill it , after a fortnight of stagnation, was not only painful, it was unpleasant. The system takes no account of the householder’s condition or ability to empty and refill, when there is virtually no need

Instead of a blunt refusal, the piece of paper attached to a bin should say, even in their parlance, that the bin has been contaminated, with the reason given, but the bin had been emptied out of courtesy, but if this reoccurred the situation would have to be reviewed. I can’t see that it is all that difficult for the drivers to have a blacklist of repeated offenders, while at the same time aiding the householder who on an odd occasion has either misunderstood the terminology, or made a reasonable mistake. The fact that the operators do not hoke down through the bin looking for contamination, to me shows an element of unnecessary bureaucratic bias.

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