'Red cards' for 'wrong' rubbish warning

UK councils could blow the whistle on you if you fail to sort your rubbish. 'Wrong' rubbish could be red-tagged. Get it right and you get a green tag by your name.

A scheme is being trialled across 16,000 homes in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and could potentially spread across the UK if successful. A load of patronising rubbish? Or a good idea?

Ask not what you can do

"We hope people will embrace the campaign," Rochdale Council's environmental service manager Martin Taylor told the Manchester Evening News, "and with our little helpful reminders about what items are right for each recycling bin and by praising individual's good work, we have high hopes to improve recycling rates and reduce contamination rates."

Rochdale Council turns over 66,000 tonnes of waste a year, though around a third of this is recycled. However the Council has previously admitted that local bin men have mixed up reclining waste with general waste, rather undermining their 'green' efforts.

Is it that hard to put the right rubbish in the right bin? For many it clearly is otherwise Rochdale Council wouldn't be carrying out this initiative. On the other hand, the Council has been criticised for not focusing hard enough on general litter.

"It's vital we get more people to recycle," Conservative group leader Ashley Dearnley told the Manchester evening paper, "but I would prefer the council focussed its efforts on getting the borough cleaned-up."

"Some people may find this campaign patronising, but I find in some areas of Rochdale that recycling isn't happening at all.

Red card!

We asked Rochdale Council to tell us how they would measure the success of its red card scheme. They replied, saying it "will monitor recycling tonnage rates and green tag numbers to assess whether the campaign has had any impact".

One risk the Council may have to allow for is increased fly-tipping, given that many councils, like Rochdale, now charge to remove bulky items. For example, Rochdale will charge you £28 to have your old fridge or dishwasher removed and almost £50 to takeaway your old toilet, bath and sink.

The cost of hiring a council skip nationally has increased sharply generally, with permits rising by as much as 650%. According to rubbish removal operator AnyJunk, £33m was spent by councils on fly tipping clearance in 2012 - but just 0.6% of fly tipping incidents were successfully prosecuted.

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