Costly recycling confusion

April 05, 2012 1:12 PM

Cornwall Council has been forced to employ additional staff at taxpayers’ expense simply to explain new recycling rules to their residents. The changes in recycling collections from the start of April have resulted in 35,000 confused locals phoning their council for help. ‘I don't think we underestimated,’ said a spokesperson from their waste and recycling department, ‘we knew there would be a lot of calls and consequently we’ve had that ability to bring more people in.’ But surely that’s a costly and wasteful use of council resources? Besides, how difficult can it be to understand the changes?

The new fortnightly recycling schedule involves a variety of coloured reusable boxes and bags to makes things clearer. In North Cornwall, Caradon and Carrick, a black box is to be used for glass, whereas in Kerrier it is a blue box and in Penwith a green box. For paper, it is a blue bag in North Cornwall, Caradon and Kerrier, but a red bag in Carrick. For cans and plastic bottles, it is a red bag in North Cornwall, Caradon and Penwith, but a blue bag in Kerrier and a yellow bag in Carrick. Got it? How difficult is that? Of course, if you put your recycling in the wrong coloured bag, it will not be picked up and you could face a fine for an environmental crime.

The confusion stems from a new council waste collection contract made with Cory Environmental. The changes mean delivering new bags and boxes across the region to residents who already have a variety of such receptacles. In North Cornwall, according to the council’s website, ‘new containers will replace the coloured disposable plastic sacks. You will receive a complete set of three reusable sacks and a black box.’ In Carrick, ‘Residents should already have a black box, a red sack for paper and possibly a yellow sack for any overflow of cans and plastic bottles.’ Whereas in Penwith, ‘Residents should already have a green box. We will deliver blue reusable sack for paper, a red reusable sack for cans and plastic bottles, and an orange reusable sack for cardboard.’

I must admit, I thought one of the justifications of big government is that we all benefit financially from a standardisation of services. Apparently not under Cornwall Council. Incidentally, the title for the council webpage attempting to explain all this is entitled ‘Talking Rubbish’. They got that bit right.

In a further request to overburdened local taxpayers, the Council also asks that ‘anyone who uses a wheeled bin or standard rubbish bin for storing their waste can continue to do this, but we need the rubbish to be bagged inside the bins. Cory will not be able to tip wheeled bins directly into their refuse collection vehicles.’ Oh dear, well anything to help out, eh?

Elderly residents are finding the changes especially difficult to keep up with. ‘As you get older you start worrying about some of the simplest things,’ said one, ‘and since I retired I’ve found that I can’t take a lot of stress.’ When he phoned the council’s help line, the advice he was given contradicted that on a leaflet sent out to residents… leaving him even more anxious.Cornwall Council has been forced to employ additional staff at taxpayers’ expense simply to explain new recycling rules to their residents. The changes in recycling collections from the start of April have resulted in 35,000 confused locals phoning their council for help. ‘I don't think we underestimated,’ said a spokesperson from their waste and recycling department, ‘we knew there would be a lot of calls and consequently we’ve had that ability to bring more people in.’ But surely that’s a costly and wasteful use of council resources? Besides, how difficult can it be to understand the changes?

The new fortnightly recycling schedule involves a variety of coloured reusable boxes and bags to makes things clearer. In North Cornwall, Caradon and Carrick, a black box is to be used for glass, whereas in Kerrier it is a blue box and in Penwith a green box. For paper, it is a blue bag in North Cornwall, Caradon and Kerrier, but a red bag in Carrick. For cans and plastic bottles, it is a red bag in North Cornwall, Caradon and Penwith, but a blue bag in Kerrier and a yellow bag in Carrick. Got it? How difficult is that? Of course, if you put your recycling in the wrong coloured bag, it will not be picked up and you could face a fine for an environmental crime.

The confusion stems from a new council waste collection contract made with Cory Environmental. The changes mean delivering new bags and boxes across the region to residents who already have a variety of such receptacles. In North Cornwall, according to the council’s website, ‘new containers will replace the coloured disposable plastic sacks. You will receive a complete set of three reusable sacks and a black box.’ In Carrick, ‘Residents should already have a black box, a red sack for paper and possibly a yellow sack for any overflow of cans and plastic bottles.’ Whereas in Penwith, ‘Residents should already have a green box. We will deliver blue reusable sack for paper, a red reusable sack for cans and plastic bottles, and an orange reusable sack for cardboard.’

I must admit, I thought one of the justifications of big government is that we all benefit financially from a standardisation of services. Apparently not under Cornwall Council. Incidentally, the title for the council webpage attempting to explain all this is entitled ‘Talking Rubbish’. They got that bit right.

In a further request to overburdened local taxpayers, the Council also asks that ‘anyone who uses a wheeled bin or standard rubbish bin for storing their waste can continue to do this, but we need the rubbish to be bagged inside the bins. Cory will not be able to tip wheeled bins directly into their refuse collection vehicles.’ Oh dear, well anything to help out, eh?

Elderly residents are finding the changes especially difficult to keep up with. ‘As you get older you start worrying about some of the simplest things,’ said one, ‘and since I retired I’ve found that I can’t take a lot of stress.’ When he phoned the council’s help line, the advice he was given contradicted that on a leaflet sent out to residents… leaving him even more anxious.

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