BINMEN refused to collect a couple’s recycling - because their blue bin had been ‘contaminated’ by a single empty crisp packet, writes Richard Marsden.
Sheffield couple John and Carol Anson are furious after nit-picking workers from waste firm Veolia drove off in their bin wagon, leaving their full recycling bin un-emptied on the pavement.
Veolia said its staff could not empty the bin - because they did not know if there were other ‘contaminated items’ inside.
John and Carol, from Selborne Road, Crosspool, are keen environmentalists who have been recycling their rubbish for years. John is a former chairman of Sheffield Conservation Trust and grows his own fruit and veg on an allotment.
They left their blue bin, containing carefully sorted cans, glass and plastic bottles with the tops removed as instructed, on the pavement for collection.
But by the time the Veolia bin wagon arrived, the Ansons’ bin also contained one solitary crisp packet, probably put just inside the lid by a passing schoolboy.
John, aged 47, a landscaper, said: “We are close to King Edward’s Lower School and Tapton School and kids walk along the street. They sometimes put litter in bins - and I think that’s great. As the blue bins are for waste including plastic, they probably thought they could put the crisp packet in anyway.
“We’re not the only people to have had this problem - Veolia refused to empty a neighbour’s blue bin because there was a wrapper from a Flake chocolate bar in it!
“It wouldn’t take much for a binman to lift the lid and take the rubbish out.
“We have been recycling for years and I used to be chairman of Sheffield Conservation Trust. I also have an allotment. We try to be as green as possible.
“I can’t believe the contents of our bin were classed as contaminated - to me, that would mean it is radioactive.”
Carol, 48, fumed: “The fact that they couldn’t - or wouldn’t - empty the bin because of one crisp packet, which was placed in my bin by passing schoolkids, is ridiculous.
“Unless I stand guard beside my blue bin until the binmen come, that sort of thing is out of my control!
“Surely it’s a good thing schoolkids dropped the crisp packet in a bin and not on the ground.
“When I phoned Veolia to complain I was told my bin could be emptied later that day - but that it would be classed as contaminated and the contents thrown away.
“Surely the binmen could use some common sense and pick out things like crisp packets or sweet wrappers if they’re at the top.
“The binmen wear gloves so they’re not going to come into contact with something dangerous.”
Carol, a senior cook at a residential home, added: “We pay a fortune in council tax, this is one of the very few services we get for our money, and they can’t even do that properly. It’s pathetic.”
The couple have declined to have their bin emptied only for the contents to be thrown away, and are instead waiting for their next collection date - by which time their bin could be overflowing, meaning extra trips to supermarket recycling banks.
A spokeswoman for Veolia insisted: “The blue bin is for the recycling of glass bottles, glass jars, plastic bottles and cans. We ask that residents only put these items into the blue bin for recycling.”