Well it’s finally arrived and like thousands of people across West Suffolk I am not that happy at the prospect of forking out another £40 a year.
I’m talking brown bins of course and the council’s decision to switch to a subscription based service for garden waste.
I’ve been keeping an eye on national waste trends and it’s been noticeable that councils right across England have been responding to budget cuts by replacing a standard collection service with a subscription model. So much so that last year when St Edmundsbury took to Twitter to announce that they’d changed the collection round to save money, I caught myself tweeting my relief that at least they’d not gone as far as ditching the brown bin service. Little did I know how close we actually were to the system being overhauled.
For now, the only silver lining is that the council didn’t ditch its collection service altogether. The thought of going back to lugging my piles off to the tip isn’t an attractive one and I don’t like the idea of it all going in my black bin. We have so much, it really would be such a waste. For a moment I did ponder scrapping the brown bin option in favour of buying a shredder and just dumping all the garden clippings in my own compost bins but the family reminded me of my accident-prone nature and I agree, the risk of limbs being shredded has put me off that cunning plan.
But I have another cunning plan. We’ve decided to cough up and pay as keeping our garden waste collection makes sense to us. However, I’m not going to keep the bin all to ourselves. Instead, I’ve suggested to my neighbours that we just do the easy thing and share it. This means they can both save cash and still make use of our brown bin whenever they need it with no hassle.
I haven’t gone as far as offering up use of our own compost bin yet but watch this space as you never know where ideas lead.
Sadly, I don’t have many polite tips for what to do with your old redundant bin. Even a cheeky look on eBay didn’t provide any obvious demand for second-hand bins and unlike old phone boxes, they don’t have the same appeal for the current trend of repurposing them into community libraries.
There is a part of me hoping that the reason the council doesn’t want them back is that, once the Brexit referendum is over, if we remain in the EU the UK Government will hopefully pull its finger out and come up with a helpful waste strategy for England in accordance with something called the Circular Economy package. If so, and with proper funding from central government, fairy dust could be sprinkled on our brown bins to bring them back to life for actually collecting food waste. There I go, all wistful again. Who knows what the future holds. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but with one eye on Europe and the other on the chatter taking place across the Resource sector, I’m not giving up hope.
Meanwhile, I suppose those brown bins would make good storage for all that stuff queuing to be taken to the Recycling Centre – aka the tip. Or weather-proofed hotspots for parcel deliveries? Going to Latitude? Well, carting your tent and festival gear will never be the same again with your up-funked upwardly-cycled festival wheelie bin.
Anyway, in other news, it’s quite timely that the Bury Free Press is launching its Waste Not Bury St Edmunds campaign. Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s wider campaign, I’m delighted that at last it will offer a space to draw together under one umbrella everyday issues and provide an opportunity to highlight all those great initiatives and innovations that are actually helping to reduce waste too.
So, if you’ve got an interesting story to tell about where you live or work, now’s the time to share it. Perhaps your school would love help to get a rubbish-busting event off the ground or maybe you’ve seen a great idea from elsewhere that you’d like to get started in our communities too. Perhaps you’ve become a Zero Waste business that would like to share your achievements with the local enterprise community. And food retailers, I truly hope this will be a real chance to actively explore and find local solutions to the serious issue of surplus good food going to waste. If you’re a charity that’s starting to work with a local supermarket, I’d love to hear your updates.
Bury St Edmunds is probably more resourceful than we could ever know but also needs to become even more resourceful than we could possibly imagine. I fear that cuts aren’t going away any time soon and we need to maximise the potential of resources and materials that are in our control, to help the economy, our vulnerable communities and the environment. We can only achieve that together.