Tens of thousands of wheelie bins will be thrown around Milton Keynes this summer.
City trash and recycling is currently collected in plastic bags, but a new trash deal will see most homes use four bins.
Non-recyclable waste will continue to be taken out weekly and it is hoped that the area’s recycling rate will increase.
But with local elections fast approaching, what are voters thinking about the bins?
“We are quite concerned that we will end up with bin-mageddon.”
Adam Chapman-Ballard, 47, stands at the end of his quiet cul-de-sac in Milton Keynes.
We are close to the gardens that he, as chairman of Walton Community Council, helped create.
“If we think about this street, there are 40 houses on this street,” he continued. “That means there will be 160 containers.”
The new service will see a black bin for non-recyclable waste, one with a blue lid for plastic, metal and glass, another with a red lid for paper and cardboard, and a green bin for food and garden waste.
Mr. Chapman-Ballard said for several of his neighbors that “the only place you could conceivably put the bins is directly under the living room windows,” but the bins are so tall that they would prevent the windows from opening.
“Not everyone has the capacity, or a side alley or somewhere where they can store four bins and any overflow,” he added.
He and his fellow community counselors have received emails from parishioners.
There are, he said, three main concerns.
“Where they will store these containers when they don’t have the space to store them, they are also concerned about what happens when the containers are returned to their ownership.
“Will officers place them neatly back on their driveways, or block paths to stop people with strollers or wheelchairs, or on the road and prevent cars from entering?”
The final concern is with recycling going from weekly collection to alternating between blue and red bins.
“What happens when the average family fills the recycling bin with a few bottles of milk and a couple of cartons for pizza or [shopping] deliveries we all have? What do you do with that excess waste when your recycling fills up?”
“We want it to succeed”
It is hoped that separating items into two bins will increase Milton Keynes’ recycling rate because there will be less contamination.
“If it reduces some of the rat problem that some areas have, then we’re all for it,” Chapman-Ballard said. “We need to increase recycling rates – [I] fully recognize it.
“But it has to be done in a way that’s actually managed so that people accept it.
“We want it to be successful – let’s be clear – we want a better solution.”
The new service should start in September.
Council offers assisted collections for people with medical conditions or disabilities and if there is no one else in the house who could put the bins out.
MK City Council also says that a “small number of homes that are not suitable for wheelie bins” will be left with bin bags or a mix of recycling bags and a wheelie bin for other waste. The changes will only affect “street-level” properties, such as houses or houses converted into apartments.
There is an online postcode checker for residents to check how their waste can be collected.
What do the parties say?
At the Trinity Center in Fishermead, a suburb of MK close to the city centre, Kim Weston says she has already purchased matching door numbers for her wheelie bins, months before delivery.
Ms. Weston, 70, volunteers at the center’s community pantry. For her, the bins will be a “nuisance”.
“I don’t like the way they look,” she said.
“I think they are a nuisance – and for some older people, trying to get one of those bins out is bad enough, but trying to get four bins out could be a real nuisance.
“There are four different colors—they’re just an eyesore.”
The council hopes the bins will also deter mice and foxes, which have been known to tear apart bin bags for food.
But Brian Jenkins, who has come to Trinity Center for his community breakfast, is skeptical.
“Put some food in a trash can, the mice will still get in, it might take a little longer, but they will still and you still have the groceries,” said the 62-year-old.
Ophelia Cole says she’s “warming up” with trash cans.
“I came from London several years ago where they used to use wheelie bins. Here I saw bags are really a problem with vermin and stuff like that.
“The rubbish will be contained. I don’t think the pests are advanced enough to be able to open the bins, so we’re safe there. But they would open the bags.”
She also admitted that while searching for trash bags recently for her trash she found herself thinking “I can’t wait for the bins, so I can just throw them in.”
Maria Affa, 59, is in the kitchen of the centre, preparing the cooked breakfasts and sending them through a serving hatch.
Given the choice, she’d be left with the bags, even though she can see the benefits of trash cans in stopping pests.
His concern is not how they will look or where they will be stored.
“I just feel [bags are] what I’m used to. I don’t want to change if possible, ”she said.
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