Talking Rubbish Blog

A discussion on household recycling can be a passionate one. The size of the bin, frequency of collection, working out which of those pesky plastics are ok to put in the recycle bin, and what about plastic bags? It can be confusing. As a community we generally have a positive attitude to curb-side or council recycling collections. We feel good doing our bit by putting all the paper, cans, plastic containers and glass into that yellow lidded bin.

Until the bin is full after only 7 days. What can we do with all those precious resources for the second week? We want to do the ‘right’ thing.  We get on the phone to the council - ‘I need a second bin, or a bigger bin’, ‘why can’t you collect recycling every week and my green bin fortnightly’? Council staff groan under the pressure.

All queries are indeed valid and the answers do not always satisfy.
  • To collect every week increases the cost of the service to residents.
  • A bigger or second bin may prove difficult to store and/or take out to the curb.
  • More than one bin will often cost residents more to acquire (although councils may cover or subsidise this cost as a service).
Maybe the bigger issue here is the actual quantity of recyclables that we as a community are producing.

Remember  the 3Rs, (reduce, reuse and recycle) and the order of importance. Reduce is the most important and recycle is the least important.  This proves tricky, because it requires us to reflect on our consuming habits. Looking at what we eat, drink, how we recreate, travel, give presents and treats, how we wash ourselves,  clean our houses, feed our animals… the list is huge and generally involves purchasing ‘stuff’ that is packaged and produces some waste product we need to dispose of.

The downside of intense recycling campaigns can be to have a community who feel satisfied with their personal waste responsibilities because they fill the yellow-lidded bin.  The deeper problem of over-consumption is usually seen as too personally invasive to promote.

What do you do with your surplus recyclables once your yellow lidded bin is full? Would you pay extra for another bin or a bigger bin? Do you try to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ you purchase?
4 Apr 2011 9:00 AM  /   / bin, recyclables, recycle, reduce, reuse  /  7 comments


Touchdown! That's a really cool way of putting it!


Thanks Peg. People generally associate compost making as being smelly , dirty and full of vermins. They need to understand that none of that is true if you do it properly. When you provide compost bins, it should come with instruction and a helpline for trouble shooting. Otherwise, have collection points like schools with kitchen gardens and community gardens to utilise these materials.


I like the compost bin idea Michele as long as we get the lessons to get the confidence to learn how to use it and then subsequently use the mixture. How can you explain the sheer joy of smelling and feeling your own compost...


There are lots of newspapers and cardboards thrown away in recycling bin. Council should give every household a compost bin instead. Why not?


Yes, bins are like roads have them and they will be used. Another move by Cambridge Council, also my council, is to bring in another bigger recycling bin- 340litre! Could fit a washing machine in that one... A bigger bin may end up being a bigger problem with contamination.

Kevin Poynton

beware of 'more bins = more space = more waste!!'

Kevin Poynton

Peg I once had a Councillor at Cambridge who was fervently of the view that the more CAPACITY i.e. volume folk are given, the more they will use!!

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