My bin half-empty

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a measured Star editorial last year correctly concluded that, given the changes in waste and the scale of cuts required from councils, Sheffield council would need to review refuse collection arrangements.

I remember when Sheffield had a ‘gold standard service’, where the bin-man was required to collect the bin from wherever you left it. People wanted just three things from the service: all the refuse was taken – not part of it left on the pavement, the bin was returned to the place it was found and the lid was replaced.

Resources and costs, technology, opportunities and expectations have all changed and a comprehensive review is timely. Nowadays, like most of our neighbours, our black bin is usually half-empty, but our blue bins and boxes are increasingly full.

I suppose it was a vain hope that Lib Dem Couns Scriven and Mohammed would end their political posturing on this issue. For the record, the vast majority of Lib Dem-controlled councils have introduced alternate-week collections. Not one intends to revert to a weekly collection.

There have been many media reports of Eric Pickles offering cash to councils to keep a weekly refuse service. Despite Pickles saying criteria and rewards would be announced in December and then early January, no scheme has yet appeared. Insiders suggest the intention is to have headline-grabbing announcements, but a scheme delivered so late and so unrewarding that take-up will be minimal.

Sheffield needs a strategy which:

Minimises waste (plastic carrier usage has dropped 90% since the Welsh introduced a 5p charge)

Maximises recycling (eg encourage increased home-composting; is it coincidental that councils with alternate week collections have highest recycling rates?)

Provides an appropriate general refuse collection service (for the vast majority, alternate week collections are fine; but there are some places, such as flat, where twice-weekly is appropriate. We don’t all have to have the same service. Bigger families may need bigger bins, not a weekly collection.)

Is responsive and continuously under review to deliver improvements.

May I thank David who, week-in, week-out, ensures all wheelie bins and boxes in our street are out ready for collection. He’s a treasure.

Howard Knight, Lyons St, S4