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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran


Why UK binmen are a load of rubbish compared to Spain
28 January 2011 @ 20:42


My dispute with the guys who collect the household refuse at my home in the UK is not so much a game of cat and mouse. It’s more a contest between prat and house.
Bury Borough Council is not the only local authority that refuses to take bags which protrude above the lid of the grey wheelie bin provided for every household. But  what a petty rule it is!

Believe me, when it comes to rubbish collection, the guys who empty the bins around my Costa Blanca villa are in a different league. I'll tell you why in a minute.

The fact is some households generate more rubbish than others - particularly if hordes of children either live in the house or descend upon it almost incessantly. Such is my home in the Bury area of Lancashire – courtesy of the fact that my five grandkids all live within 200 yards of my pad.

And while I can accept  the local council placing some limit on what they will collect, it takes a true jobsworth to remove and dump any bag that happens to protrude above lid level of the wheelie bin.

Bury Council’s official website requests householders to ‘‘make sure your bin lids are fully closed’’ on collection day. But why? Will the bin attack a neighbour or something if the lid is raised just a teeny bit above horizontal?

It beats me that the binmen bother to enforce the ‘empty closed wheelies only’ policy because moving  a piled-high bin onto the ramp to be tipped automatically into the bowels of their wagon is surely quicker than having to remove the excess rubbish first.

You’d think the £178-per-month I pay in council tax would entitle me to have ALL my genuine household waste taken away each week. Instead, I often have to wait three weeks for my separate recycling and garden-waste wheelie bins to be emptied.

It’s all so inferior to the quiet, efficient way refuse is collected in the Costa Blanca, which has become my home of choice over the last few years.

To start with, the Spanish binmen come in the evening, when the roads are quiet – so there’s minimum disruption to traffic. It’s so much better than the chaos British bin lorries cause during the day as they back up into side streets and cul de sacs.

In Spain, household refuse is also collected EVERY DAY, not just once a week. In the winter, as well as summer. And rather than stopping at every house, the binmen remove the rubbish from large communal containers placed a couple of hundred yards apart.

Garden refuse is collected once a week from the same point, while recycling containers are dotted conveniently around the urbanisation for people to use at their convenience.

It’s anything but inconvenient  for householders – even the laziest of individuals should be able to walk 100 yards to dispose of their  household waste. Oh, and last year the council tax on my three-bedroom villa amounted to just 386.08 euros (equal to £333.78 as I write). That’s roughly 20 per cent of what I pay to Bury Council.

It’s one of my old chestnuts, but Britain is being held back by the old colonialist attitude that still lingers in decision-making areas. Namely that if we didn’t think it up, then it can’t be any good.

That sort of thinking is a massive load of rubbish! And no, Bury Council, I don’t want your bolshy binmen to come and dump it all on my drive in Prestwich.

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Amelie said:
28 January 2011 @ 21:09

Wow that's such a dumb rule! I'm American and living in Madrid and I can attest to the garbage men (what we call them back in the States) coming around every night and picking up the recycling and the trash--including Sundays! Back in the US it's pretty efficient too--there are set days for recycling and trash depending what day of the week it is but they don't come around on weekends (and they come around early morning and wake you up with all the racket they cause).
We don't have any rule about garbage overflowing (at least don't think so) but keeping your bins closed is probably a better idea--otherwise the animals
(especially the raccoons, they like to scavenge A LOT) can get in and tip them over. Then you have to clean it up--not so fun!

Donna Gee said:
28 January 2011 @ 21:23

Not too many racoons in Bury, Amelie - but I have seen quite a few urban foxes. Not heard the council use that as a reason for their wheelie-bin pettiness, though.

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