Birminghams New Wheelie Bins – Your Questions Answered

Birmingham City Council recently won almost £30million from the Government from a scheme designed to preserve weekly collections of what is currently “black bag” waste.

The Department for Communities and Local Government told council officers that the city’s bid – based on introudcing wheeled bins for Birmingham’s households – had excelled in all areas.

In the video above, Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart city, explains some of the key points of the bid, discusses the challenges that the city’s refuse collection service faces and addresses some concerns that have been raised by citizens.

Will the Recent DCLG announcement of funding mean we will have wheeled bins in Birmingham?
Yes. This matter was debated by the city council’s Cabinet on Monday 30th July 2012 and again on the 10th December 2012. The city council has been awarded over £29 million by Central Government to introduce a wheeled bin collection service across Birmingham.

Will the Council look at the experience of Councils who have already introduced wheeled bins?
Wheeled bins are used in over 82% of all councils in England and there is a great deal of experience and knowledge about what works and what doesn’t – Birmingham will learn from this previous experience. This isn’t a unique project and all of the major cities in England already use wheeled bins.

What size bin will I receive?
It will be essential to ensure that households receive an appropriate sized container for their needs. It is recognised that some households, for example larger households, would need larger containers. The council has not determined which size containers will be used but would look at what other local authorities do and determine how best to meet the needs of residents, and the council.

How many bins will I receive?
Up to 3 bins – one for waste, one for recycling and one for green waste (if required). We will be testing how the bins will be used in selected areas of the city. Adjustments may need to be made for individual property types and roads.

I don’t think my property is suitable for a wheeled bin
We appreciate that not all properties are suitable for a wheeled bin collection service. Following the models from other councils, these include some properties that:

  • Have a steep slope / many steps between the house and the street where it would be difficult to move a wheeled bin up or down
  • Have no access or very limited access to the rear of the property, such as in some types of terraced housing
  • Have no ground floor access, such as flats above shops and some maisonettes.

In these circumstances, other councils make alternative arrangements such as retaining the collection system that was previously used.

What about elderly or disabled residents how will they manage?
We recognise that some residents would find it difficult or impossible to move a wheeled bin, such as a wheelchair user, and we will make alternative arrangements either through the provision of an ‘assisted’ service or again, through providing a different type of collection service that meets the households needs.

Why are we changing black sacks if it already works well?
Whilst we appreciate your view that the current black sack system works perfectly well, independent research has shown that where a wheeled bin system has been introduced, recycling rates have increased. Birmingham needs to reduce the amount of waste that we produce and to reuse and recycle more. Furthermore the current system causes litter due to bags being ripped open by rodents, other animals and birds with the contents strewn about the street.

When will the bins be introduced?
The bid to the DCLG outlined a 2 to 3 year timetable for the full procurement and roll-out of the bins. We intend to implement a pilot in spring 2013 in two wards looking at different options. The wards to be selected will be determined shortly.

Will my collection day change?
It is possible when wheeled bins are rolled-out that collection days may change, however it is not possible at this stage to give an indication of what those changes could be. All changes to days would be kept to a minimum.

Will wheeled bins result in redundancies?
No. It is anticipated the introduction will not cause job losses.

Times are tough. Couldn’t you be spending this on something more worthwhile?
The grant funding that the city council has been successful in obtaining from the DCLG is specifically awarded to enable the city to maintain weekly collections of residual waste. This funding cannot be used for other purposes.

I don’t have a Nectar card and want to support local businesses. What use is the incentive scheme going to be for me?
A participation-based incentive scheme was recently piloted with Nectar, which was successful in improving recycling levels in the pilot areas by around 9%. The proposed roll-out of an incentivisation scheme across the whole of Birmingham will be fully considered before implementation and a range of options and service providers will be considered for the full roll-out.

I live in a Conservation Area. You simply cannot impose wheeled bins on areas that have such a rich heritage. I hope that you will exempt us from these eyesores.
Each area will be looked at individually to see whether it will be suitable for wheeled bins. The improvements to waste collection are expected to improve the tidiness of the streets in Birmingham and reduce the amount of litter which is currently attributable to the existing bagged residual and box recycling collections.

Will you be conducting a survey?
We will ensure that there is community involvement and engagement and will harness views through a wide range of organisations and forums including an on-line survey for all residents and consultation through District Committees.

Can I have a composter, rather than a green waste bin? It would save you the collection cost, and help me produce compost for my garden!
This is a good idea and will be put forward and considered as part of the implementation plan.

Who is responsible for keeping the bins clean?
The experience of other local authorities who have implemented this type of collection methodology is that residents place bagged waste into the wheeled bins, and therefore there is minimal ongoing need to clean. If cleaning is required then it is the resident’s responsibility to undertake this.

Why are you not proposing to take food waste separately?
The council is currently considering the feasibility of a separate food waste collection. In the future it may also be possible to co-collect food waste with garden waste and the 3 bin proposed would support this method of collection. This is not part of the funding received as part of the DCLG bid. A separate consultation with residents would be undertaken if this option was considered further.