Sunday, 19 May 2013


I think I want one of these.
I'm not passionate about it, but I do my best with recycling, and now most of the town population has one I'd quite like one too. It would save a few clanking trips to the bottle bank
All the houses around here have one, except for our little bit of the area, the bit where the road bends and goes under the bridge. I think we got missed off the map.
Some of my close neighbours have one, but they had to ring up and make a bit of a fuss and wait for quite a while.

So the other morning, feeling full of recycling zeal and with not too much else to do I thought I'd have a go and also ask on behalf my next-door neighbour to save an extra phone call.

It's not straight-forward, trying to be green.
I have to be assessed.
I asked if the assessment involved making a phone call and a request, but I was told no,  it depends on my personal circumstances.
At this point I became more interested.
What personal circumstances?
I would have to be assessed to see if the special new van could access my road.
'It's already accessing my road', I said, 'Some of my neighbours have wheelie bins.'
But I still have to be assessed. My house and my circumstances have to be assessed, and then a decision will be made about whether I get a bin or stay as a bag.
'I have a flat drive area with space for a bin,' I said.
Not good enough.
Further assessment is needed.
I capitulated. Fair enough.
'Could you assess my next-door neighbours at the same time?' I said. 'They want a bin too.'
This is impossible. They must make separate application. There may be confidentiality issues at stake here.

So I'm waiting to be assessed. Should I bake a cake, wear my best clothes, tidy up the front garden? What needs do I have, and how can a wheelie bin be judged to meet them?
In the meantime, in this tense hiatus, I hear nerve-wracking stories. Wheelie bins are micro-chipped and are able to record the quality and quantity of their contents. Should I remove the labels from the cheap wine bottles, or does cheaper wine indicate greater need?
I hear tales of people falling over, under and even into wheelie bins, of wheelie bins being out of control on sloping driveways, of them causing damage to parked vehicles and garden furniture.
It's all so much more complex than I realised.
Maybe I'll fail the assessment and stay as a bag.

Update - June 1st.
I feel sure I'm getting closer. I've passed the assessments, and one of my neighbours now has two recycling bins and is trying to send one of them back. Things are moving, even if not as expected.

Update - June 5th.
After a couple of days away I return to find a letter welcoming my new wheelie bin, saying the Council hopes we'll be happy together, and also saying it will be emptied this morning.
BUT - no wheelie bin!
The story rolls on.

Update - June 10th.
Still no bin for me, but my neighbours, both having some physical problems, were told that their wheelie bin could be collected from the top of their garden steps (and returned when emptied). Now they have been assessed (following a failure to return the empty bin to the garden), and the  four steps are judged too hazardous to be negotiated by the Bin Operatives. Life becomes unspeakably perilous!

Update - June 13th.
Someone in some office has ticked the wrong box, saying I have a bin when I haven't. What a surprise!
I now have a reference number so that the next time the bin doesn't arrive I can quote the number. Then what.....?
This Council uses a logo which claims it is 'Committed to Excellence'. How would it be if it was 'Committed to Confusion'?

Update - June 17th.
My neighbour (he of the confidentiality issues) makes one call to the Council Hub and receives a wheelie bin the next day. A lorry comes along the road, laden with wheelie bins, but none has my vital reference number. Do I quote non-delivery, or do I just forget the whole thing and either dump my empties into someone else's bin or throw them over the fence into my neighbour's garden now that he has a bin? Am I dealing with sexism, ageism or just everyday daftness?

Update - June 19th.
Neighbourhood wheelie bins emptied this morning, including that of a neighbour who didn't want one and had not requested one.
I don't care. 
A kind neighbour had offered space in hers, and as there were bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape and  Pouilly Fuisse left over from elder son's visit I thought it would be ok, (also Bishop's Finger,  and Old Peculier from younger son, but still not image-harming).
My descent into paranoia continues.
Thank you, Linda.

Update June 22nd.
I am delighted to announce that this morning I was safely delivered of a wheelie bin. Absolutely no one was to blame for the six-week delay. It was all the computer's fault. Of course!


Elephant's Child said...

I love our wheelie bin. And the recycling one is frequently full to bursting - unlike the garbage bin. I now have a scar on my lip from where it got away from me and I planted my face on the road - and I still love it.

mm said...

Hope you manage to get a bin. Can't imagine why your council are being so picky. Bureaucracy methinks.

Over here we had bags for recycling up until a few years ago when we moved up a notch and everyone was issued with a green wheelie bin, which is cleared every fortnight. It's great. It takes everything - plastic, paper, glass bottles and jars, card. And we leave the labels on!

We do however still have black bags for ordinary rubbish, which is not great, particularly in hot weather. However they are collected weekly and with finances being the way they are I can't see things changing.

Jee said...

ours is now operational - it came at the beginning of April. I'm a fan, it saves trips to the tip with bulky cardboard, and not having bottles cluttering up the garage is great. Let it only be whispered but I'd like one instead of a black bag -our bag goes out at 7.00 am and not by the time it's collected at around 9.30 the jackdaws have scattered the contents. Of course, if we keep it in until 9.00 the men collect at 7 !

Jee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zhoen said...

Oh, good luck!

Most apartments here don't recycle, took a long time to get any of the larger ones to. Thankfully, when we got to the House, there were already bins for recycle and yard waste. We'd need a fourth to get glass recycle though.

Relatively Retiring said...

Elephant's Child, mm and Jee: thank you for your comments. Wheelie bins seem to have a Marmite factor - love them or hate them.
I'm really looking forward to my assessment and hope I have access to the results. I think it could just be that someone counted up wrong and didn't order quite enough, but now it all has to be justified under a cloak of bureaucracy.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: this system seems simpler, but there are other towns where people have a whole range of differently coloured boxes and have to remember a complex collection system. Anything is better than what I saw in Russia, where the Black Sea coastline was ankle deep in plastic and polystyrene.

marigold jam said...

How I laughed - it's not really funny though is it it's bureaucracy gone mad isn't it? Hope you get the bin although in view of your last paragraph maybe being a bag is safer!!

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: it might be easier if the Council admitted that they missed us of the route map, but I'll be ok as a bag lady!

Rose H (UK) said...

We've got three bins now, the normal household refuse, a green bin for garden waste and our new blue bin for recycling which replaces the boxes we had before. I do love the new bin, but oh how I wish the garden was bigger to accommodate them all!
Good luck, hope you get yours :o)
Rose H

Relatively Retiring said...

Rose; thank you for reading and commenting. I've now been assessed and found suitable! A bin will be coming my way 'in due course'.
Three bins sound enough for even the most zealous recycler!

Leslee said...

Ha! That does sound excessively bureaucratic. And they look enormous. Where I live, we each get one small bin, accepting mixed items, picked up every other week. I don't quite fill mine (I'm only home weekdays, plus I stack neatly), but my upstairs neighbors' bin is always chaotic and overflowing, with additional paper bags full alongside. I guess we could really use one of those big wheelie bins! But my goodness, microchipped to report your contents?! Wow. I hope you get one!

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: the suspense continues. I've been assessed and found suitable but not yet binned. This may take time and more phone calls!