RECYCLING is a big issue in Basingstoke and Deane – but one of the biggest obstacles to encouraging people to recycle more is the fact that the household bins are simply too big.
That’s the verdict of Councillor Louise Bloom, the environment chief at the top-performing council in Hampshire for recycling.
While Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is languishing near the bottom of the league table when it comes to local authority recycling in Hampshire and nationally, Eastleigh Borough Council is blazing a trail.
Basingstoke and Deane council’s environment chief Councillor Robert Donnell has partly blamed the disappointing recycling figure on the fact that borough residents want a weekly rather than fortnightly household refuse collection.
But Louise Bloom, cabinet member for environment and sustainability at East-leigh Borough Council, believes a key reason for Basingstoke and Deane’s poor figures is down to the size of the bins.
At 240-litre capacity, the borough bins, which are collected weekly, are far bigger than the 140-litre and 180-litre bins in Eastleigh that are collected every other week.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council provides a whopping 240-litre refuse bin for all residents in the borough. You can get a 140-litre smaller bin – but you have to ask for it.
In Eastleigh, residents are provided with a 140-litre bin if there are up to two people in a household. Those with three or more people living together are given the 180-litre bin.
Cllr Bloom told The Gazette: “If you give people a bin, they will fill it up – it is human nature. By restricting space, residents have to do more recycling, and it makes them think about what they are chucking away.”
Cllr Bloom, who represents Hedge End Grange Park, believes the smaller bins contribute to her council’s recycling success.
She added: “What we do, any council can do. If other councils did what we do, they would be doing as well as we are.”
She told The Gazette: “We collect the recycling one week, and the household waste the next week, so we are pushing people into recycling.
“We were one of the first councils to do it. This is another reason why we have been so successful.”
She added: “It is not just about recycling. It is about consuming less waste in the first place. People have to look at themselves, and encouraging larger bins to be used is not good for recycling at all because they don’t make people think about what they are chucking away.”
She added that communicating effectively with residents has been another key factor in Eastleigh’s high recycling rates.
Cllr Bloom said: “I think it is how you present it to your residents. If you say that you will save money by having alternate weekly collections, and it will save you council tax, then to me that’s a pretty straight answer. Our residents can have money spent on more interesting things than rubbish collection.”
Cllr Bloom said that the council promotes recycling and has three members of staff visiting schools, attending public events to give out leaflets, and contacting the community directly.
The authority managed to recycle 40 per cent of its rubbish between April 2012 and March 2013.
Athena Ace, who lives in Eastleigh with her husband, child and mother, believes having a smaller bin does encourage her family to recycle. The 37-year-old said: “We have to recycle because the bin fills up quickly.”
And Eileen Buckingham, 82, who lives in Eastleigh with her 85-year-old husband, Derek, said the smaller size bin is more than adequate for two people.
The grandmother-of-four added: “There are only two of us so there’s plenty of space. We do recycle. We always have.”
How big the household waste bins are in Hampshire – and the recycling rates
Eastleigh – 140-litre and 180-litre – 40 per cent recycling
Hart – 240-litre – 38 per cent
Fareham – 240-litre – 37 per cent
Winchester – 240-litre – 35 per cent
East Hampshire – 240-litre – 35 per cent
Test Valley – 240-litre – 34 per cent
New Forest – Authority uses refuse sacks – 30 per cent
Havant – 240-litre – 30 per cent
Rushmoor – 140-litre – 26 per cent
Basingstoke and Deane – 240-litre – 25 per cent
Southampton – 240-litre – 24 per cent
Gosport – 240-litre – 24 per cent
Portsmouth – Authority uses refuse sacks – 23 per cent
Basingstoke and Deane, New Forest, Rushmoor, Southampton and Portsmouth all have weekly household waste collections – the rest have alternate weekly collections