A mixed bag

PUBLISHED: 12:39 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

SIR – A few thoughts on the bins v bags debate. Like many of the previous writers, including Hannah Gray, I am fascinated by the pros and cons of wheelie bins versus plastic refuse bags. Generally I am against the bag, particularly when it finally lands f

SIR - A few thoughts on the bins v bags debate. Like many of the previous writers, including Hannah Gray, I am fascinated by the pros and cons of wheelie bins versus plastic refuse bags. Generally I am against the bag, particularly when it finally lands full to bursting on the public pavement and occasionally leaves a lingering, messy residue; but I also have reservations about wheelie bins, particularly in terms of their size and colour.

My mother lives in a village in another county. For the safe and hygienic storage of household refuse the local authority provides wheelie bins which are chest high. Sad to say they are not collected in the strictest sense but emptied by a screaming automated juggernaut provided they are placed at the side of the road. When full they can only be manoeuvred by muscular persons who are fit and healthy. My mother is rather frail and only slightly taller than the wheelies and so not able to comply with this demand. Fortunately, in respect of her special circumstances she is allowed to put out a bin bag - QED a mixed system is possible.

One of my friends lives in Ware. The district council provides giant wheelie bins. She happens to live in a terrace house, one of many to be found in the old industrial part of the town. Like many of her neighbours she has a minute front garden and no rear access to her property so the mighty wheelie, in company with many others, lives permanently on the pavement next to the front gate. In her street these bins form a major obstacle to pavement users and a regular challenge to weekend revellers rolling past in the darkened early hours.

From my landing window I overlook my next door neighbour's yard. There is a side path which stretches across the width of the house, some 10 metres. Presently lined up along the wall are two red boxes for bottles, one blue box for papers and tins, one giant brown wheelie bin for compost and two black bins containing bin sacks - not a pretty sight. Do they have to be colour coded - and what happens if you do not have this amount of space - what about all those who live in terraces with shared rear entry passages - or for that matter those who live in cluster homes and small low-rise apartments or in flats without rubbish chutes?

I have met many householders across Stevenage whose lives were transformed, in ways which I do not have the time to describe, by the arrival of the brown compost bin. Some, like me, were almost traumatised by its massive presence and needed to appeal for help to the appropriate department. I was fortunate, on appeal, to receive a smaller bin with an undercarriage which just fits between the narrow entrance to my back garden. But what if I am offered another wondrous wheelie for the weekly household refuse, where will I keep it, will there be a sensible choice of sizes?

I would not profess to be one who can provide answers to this dilemma but perhaps the safer, more hygienic and healthier way forward for Stevenage household refuse disposal is to implement a mixed system which begins with the provision of large wheelies to those who have the space down to a small lidded bucket, or even a good quality plastic bag for the have-nots ?

ROD MOORHOUSE

Chalkdown

Stevenage

SIR - I am in favour of keeping the black bags. As someone who recycles everything I possibly can, I have very little household rubbish. I do not need to put out my bag every week, every other week is normal, so a big bin would be surplus to my needs. Also, it would be another one to house in my small garden.

Mrs V CONRAN

Archer Road

Stevenage

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